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Airport delays expected throughout Summer

Holidaymakers planning on heading abroad this summer are being warned of long delays at UK airports, due to shortages in immigration staff.

The Immigration Service Union (ISU) is urging the Home Office and the UK Border Force to tackle the issue to avoid long delays throughout the summer. Immigration checks already cause delays of around an hour, and the ISU is warning that if nothing is done this could be pushed up to as long as three or four hours.

The lengthy queues at immigration desks inevitably have an effect on all flights to and from the airport, as gates take longer to clear. The ISU has said that the current fixed roster system used by the UK Border Agency does not take into account passenger flows, meaning there is no way to respond with more staff on busier days and fewer staff on quieter days.

Home Office plans may only serve to exacerbate the problem, as it is planning to reduce the number of immigration staff when stricter controls are introduced. “It's an ongoing problem that will only get worse as the airports get busier,” said Lucy Moreton, an ISU official, told the Daily Telegraph. There are also concerns that the Olympic Games will cause further delays, especially at Heathrow – the main airport for Olympic tourists.

MPs from the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee have written to the minister responsible for the Games to raise concerns about Heathrow’s handling of the increased passenger numbers.“We understand that significant preparations have been made to accommodate unusual sporting equipment, special lanes for the Olympic family, welcoming arrangements for competitors and additional Olympic ambassadors,” the letter read.

“However, far less thought seems to have been given to the issue of how to deal with long queues at immigration.” If you are planning a holiday abroad this year, it helps to plan ahead to avoid delays as much as possible. You should also invest in travel insurance to protect yourself while you’re away.

Date Created: 12 April 2012

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