Meeting demanded with government over airport queues

Home secretary Theresa May is to meet airline body the British Air Transport Association to discuss concerns about chaos at airport passport control points due to insufficient border control staffing.

Airlines fear that depleted staffing could lead to gridlock at airports during peak travel times such as the London Olympic Games, when 500,000 overseas visitors are due to visit Britain.

Bata chief executive Simon Buck called for a meeting with May in a letter to the home secretary last month that made the case for increased Border Force staffing.

He told the Financial Times: “Britain will be on show to the rest of the world this summer during … the Olympic Games.

“We want to see the Border Force properly resourced so it can provide robust border security – but also make sure passengers are not unduly delayed on arrival at airports.”

Buck declined to comment on the planned meeting with May, but the airlines’ concerns are mainly focused on Heathrow, the world’s fourth-busiest airport by passenger numbers.

MPs are expected to question May today about long immigration queues this month at Heathrow.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, which will question May, is reported as saying: “These [queues] are a very serious issue. This isn’t just about the Olympics, it’s a wider problem.”

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