Virgin Atlantic has called on the border force to take action as the number of international visitors to the UK waiting more than two hours to clear immigration continues to increase.
New figures reveal the force missed its target of a 45-minute wait or less for 95 per cent of visitors from outside the European Economic Area on 30 out of 31 days last month.
In response Virgin is calling for urgent action to reduce the waiting times and extend the welcome visitors deserve.
Recent high-profile events such as the Royal Wedding and the favourable exchange rate have contributed to increased international visits in 2018, and coupled with an under resourced border force has led to excessively long queue times at immigration, the airline argues.
The longest queue time occurred on July 6th, when non-EEA visitors spent up to two hours 36 minutes waiting in immigration queues.
Craig Kreeger, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said: “This summer significant queues at border control mean that thousands of visitors have faced two-hour queues to get their passports checked, leaving them frustrated before they’ve even started their trip.”
He added: “We all agree that 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.”
British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz made a similar call last week.
The government said it is deploying 200 extra staff to Heathrow this summer to combat the queues.