Long lines ahead at Gatwick

Hotel News - 28/04/2008

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Travellers flying to and from Gatwick this summer are in for longer waits since there is a significant lack of staff at immigration. According to Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee (Gatcom), an independent watchdog for the airport, the facility requires more staff from the Home Office in order to reduce congestion.

Even without the staff shortages, changes to security will mean longer waits at the airport, especially for passengers travelling to the EU. The procedure for processing incoming passengers has become longer due to the introduction of new technology to scan passports and new security measures.

The low levels of immigration staff funded by the Home Office at Gatwick means that wait times are likely to increase beyond the hour currently experienced by many passengers returning to the UK.

Gatcom’s chairman, Dr John Godfrey, said that in November, he wrote about the problem to Liam Byrne, minister of immigration. He said: “It is a big issue for Gatwick. We have had meetings with the local representatives of the immigration service at the airport and we understand the difficulties they are facing.”

“The problem is that the Government has made the requirements for examining passports of EU citizens tougher and it takes longer for everybody to get through immigration. At the same time there has been no increase in the number of immigration officers at the airport. In fact, there has been some decreases.”

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