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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Heathrow Airport Reports Zero Wait Time Despite Border Force Strike

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In spite of almost a thousand Border Force officers walking out in protest over pay, pensions, and job security on Christmas Eve, Heathrow Airport reported zero wait times for incoming passengers to go through immigration during the busiest morning rush.

Heathrow’s immigration facilities were expected to experience a rapid increase in lines, with wait times of at least two hours projected. In the worst-case situation, the airport would have had to close to new arrivals in order to avoid dangerous overcrowding.

In truth, Heathrow claimed in an internal message that during the morning rush on December 24, passengers were passing over the border with almost any wait. Passengers who couldn’t use the automated immigration e-gates at Terminal 3 had to wait just one minute at 10 a.m.

Some travelers had to wait up to eight minutes to cross the border at Terminal 5 early in the day, but the PCS union, which represents Border Force workers on strike, predicted that lines would only grow worse as the day went on.

With the exception of December 27, Border Force agents will remain on strike every day until the new year. Yesterday, they began their walkout. As many families return to the UK from their Christmas vacations overseas on December 28, disruption is anticipated to worsen.

Heathrow Airport is urging travelers to utilize the immigration e-gates to relieve the strain on the workers at the immigration offices. However, families with children under the age of 12 are not permitted to use the e-gates.

While inflation was at 11%, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka claimed that his members had been given a 2% pay raise.

“The government has known for months they have to do something about this crisis but have refused to negotiate, refused to put a penny on the table and have given us no option than to take industrial action,” Serwotka commented on Friday.

A large number of soldiers who have undergone basic training in handling passengers have taken the place of PCS members at the border. Serwotka claims he worries that the lack of experience and training could jeopardize the border, but the Home Office has refuted these claims.

In order to avoid crowding, travelers could be kept aboard airplanes if lines started to form in the immigration halls. In order to ease the strain at the border, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have both indicated that they will no longer be selling tickets for flights that arrive at Heathrow during the strike.

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