Following on from yesterday’s call for Border Force to take action on lengthy immigration clearance times, our CEO Craig Kreeger today reiterates his concerns about the unresolved situation and the ongoing impact on our passengers.
It’s not very often that Virgin Atlantic and British Airways find themselves in complete agreement, but when it comes to the unacceptable state of immigration queues at Heathrow airport, we are.
Sadly, this summer significant queues at Border Control mean that thousands of visitors have regularly faced the longest queues in London to get their passports checked, often over two hours, leaving them frustrated before they’ve even started their trip.
For an island nation like the UK, a busy border is a sign of health. According to Visit Britain – the UK’s tourist authority – 76% of tourists arrive in the UK by air, and they account for 87% of inbound tourist spending. Virgin Atlantic has itself seen a 20% increase in the number of US visitors arriving on our flights this year. Many of them are coming to the UK for events such as the Royal Wedding and Wimbledon, as well as London’s many world-class attractions.
At Virgin Atlantic, we are doing our bit to mitigate the impact on our passengers by making more of our colleagues available at the airport during peak hours, and introducing a “greet and treat” service to offer snacks and water to passengers on arrival.
Security and safety at our airports is vital and remains our top priority, but other countries are managing their borders more effectively. At a time when the UK needs to show the world it is open for business, the Government and Border Force need to provide a great first impression, for every visitor, every time.
CEO, Virgin Atlantic