|UK threat levels remain high.|
Both British Airways and Virgin are sounding off to anyone who will listen, about the delays in admitting their passengers to the UK, and blaming Border Force for not doing their job properly, writes Julian Bray, Aviation Expert and broadcaster journalist.
Its claimed they've managed to obtain performance figures for Heathrow, but these figures are freely available month by month and have been known to all who visit the Heathrow.com website.
However the Border Force, an agency under the control of the Home Office, is still a shambles and uses a patched up legacy computer system. Successive Government cuts (not savings as they claim) have increased the numbers of staff on long-term-sickness leave, the most common problem being stress! So politicians will claim there is adequate staffing as they only seem to look at the overall payroll headcount, but in reality the staff who are specially trained for frontline duties at airports are few and clearly stretched.
Substantial investment in terms of active new staff being evaluated and trained up needs to take place together with the 'churn' or 'burn-out' rate of resignations tackled head on. Then of course there is the looming prospect of 'brexit' next March, but that is another story...
The sad fact remains the UK is still at the second highest threat level, and that if airline ground crew staff (many are sub-contracted locally) at the overseas point of departure were far more vigilant, and strictly applied all security protocols, perhaps some of those allowed to board their aircraft would be 'denied boarding' resulting in a marginal improvement in UK immigration entry times?
To some extent the answer lies with air passengers, as they do not really need to use Heathrow, currently running at peak capacity when the UK regional airport network offers a much better and faster entry service. If Heathrow delays were also taken into consideration as an integral part of the overall journey time, the regional airport route would actually be a quicker and more convenient overall end to end option!
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