It has been announced by UK Immigration Minister Damian Green that the UK Border Force will recruit a further staff at Heathrow Airport in order to deal with the anticipated long queues. Green says that extra staff would be brought in as cover for immigration officers who are due to take leave at the end of the Olympics and also to manage the expected rush when tens of thousands of students arrive in the UK for the beginning of the academic year.
It was initially planned that the 70 extra staff were to start working in 2014 pending the reopening of Heathrow airport’s Terminal 2, however, due to the expected increase of travellers following the Olympics, the extra staff will be allocated work this summer.
“Terminal 2 is reopening in 2014. Seventy extra people will be working there. We are recruiting them to be working from the immediate post-Olympics,” says Green.
The UK Home Office ministers have also cancelled all summer annual leave for UK Border Force officers and have brought in an extra 480 temporary staff to manage the expected surge of a predicted 650,000 tourists this summer.
“The queue levels we’ve seen at some times of the day, particularly at Heathrow and Stansted, are not acceptable. That’s why we have taken the measures we have already taken and we will take more measures,” says Green. “This is a problem we need to continue gripping. We are taking practical steps to address the issue of queues but at the same time the first priority has to be the security of our border.”
The announcement was made by Green at a recent Home Affairs Committee meeting as part of its inquiry into the work of the UK Border Agency and the UK Border Force. Additionally, BAA, BA and Virgin Airlines also notified the MP’s that the extremely long queues had progressively deteriorated over the last two years and were seen to be damaging business.
Colin Matthews, chief executive of BAA, owner and operator of Heathrow airport says, with regards to the queues, “[They’ve gotten] worse since the summer of 2010” … “It has been more noticed and commented on in recent months, But it has deteriorated since summer 2010. We can detect some improvement in last week or so. I believe that it’s because of the additional resources that have been made available.”
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