Passengers are being forced to queue for up to six hours to get through passport control, as coronavirus checks are taking so long.
The government are being called on to provide more resources so that all border desks are manned which will reduce the six hour queues, Emma Gilthorpe who runs the airport said.
Travellers who are entering Heathrow Airport are complaining that hundreds are literally standing in close quarters are fearful over the risk of infection, with some comparing the airport to a “petri dish.”
Speaking to the Commons Home Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Gilthorpe warned that Border Force are under a “huge amount of pressure” as there are “unacceptable levels of queueing.”
Gilthorpe warned MPs, that “we are seeing significant pressure on the border and we are seeing very long queues and that is a worry.”
She added, “Now it is not uncommon to see queues of three hours and we have had queues extending out to nearly six hours on occasion.
“The extra layers that have been introduced are crippling the resourcing capability that Border Force has in place.”
The Covid compliance checks which ensure passenger locator forms, test results along with travellers having to justify their journey need to be made digital “rapidly” to open E-gates.
Gilthorpe said, “We need a systematic and sustained focus on how we are going to resource so we can stop passengers having to queue for unacceptable lengths of time.
“We do all we can at Heathrow … but ultimately, we need to get flow moving through the border far, far better than we have at the moment.”
Adam Holloway who is a Committee member said that this is “absolutely staggering” and asked how would it be possible it Border Force were dealing with fewer passengers.
Gilthorpe replied with, “Ultimately it is for government to provide the resources.”
She added, “The Border Force officers that we have need to be on those desks and it is deeply frustrating as the operator of the airport when you have a queue full of people and you only have two desks open, and it is rare to see all the desks manned, and we have to find our way to how we make that happen so we can get that flow.”
MPs on the Committee were warned that the UK could miss out on an “economic resurgence” if the problems at Heathrow Airport are not solved.
Gilthorpe added, “We have to make sure that we are capable of receiving people, because if you have a poor experience at the border then there is a risk you’re not going to come back again.
“And that traffic will go to Charles de Gaulle [Airport], it will go to Frankfurt, and we will miss out on that economic resurgence because we know Heathrow is key for that business and trade as part of that recovery.”