Making use of technology to provide advance screening of passengers would help reduce bottlenecks at UK airport arrivals points.

The message was made by the British Air Transport Association (Bata) in response to the Home Affairs Select Committee Report on the work of the Border Force.

The cross-party group warned that the poor performance of immigration officials was damaging to the travel industry and the “ordeal” of getting into the UK for visitors could harm the wider economy.

Bata chief executive Simon Buck said airlines had invested millions in a range of initiatives to ‘export the border’ such as an e-borders programme which harnesses technology to deliver advance passenger information (APIS) to the control authorities.

“In so doing, this provides for more efficient and speedier throughput of legitimate travellers through UK border controls while maintaining border security,” he said.

“However, existing targets for average delays set by Border Force of 25 minutes for clearing European Economic Area (EEA) passengers and 45 minutes for non-EEA passengers are not demanding enough.

“Airlines want to see target average delays replaced by target maximum delays and see times brought down.”

Buck added that it was essential that airlines are part of the discussion and Bata made this offer to Home Secretary Theresa May earlier this year.

“Bata airlines have offered to work with Border Force to maintain the integrity of the border while taking a balanced approach, involving the greater use of technology as an aid to the screening of passengers prior to arrival at the border control point,” he said. “We look forward to taking this work forward in collaboration.”

Buck stressed that “robust” border controls are essential for the safety and security of the UK.