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BA and Border Agency in row over Heathrow congestion

BA said passengers faced busy queues at immigration at Terminal 5 on Friday but the Border Agency insists it is ready for the half-term rush this weekend

British Airways and the UK Border Agency (UKBA) were at loggerheads on Friday night over claims by the airline that passengers were experiencing longer than normal waits at immigration areas due to a lack of Border Agency staff in the run-up to one of the airport’s busiest weekends of the year.

Passengers were faced with busy queues on Friday morning at immigration checkpoints in Heathrow’s Terminal 5, according to BA, which subsequently sent out a memo to cabin crew so that they could inform passengers of potential delays on arrival.

“We are working with Heathrow airport and speaking to UK Border Agency to understand why the immigration area was affected,” BA said in a statement on Friday evening.

“We are doing all we can to assist our customers and are sorry that they are being affected by this issue, which is regrettably beyond our control.”

A Heathrow spokesman said: “No one has notified us of a staff shortage. However it is up to UK Border Agency to staff the border appropriately.”

A spokesperson for the UKBA said that it “did not accept” what British Airways said and insisted that, as of 10pm on Friday night, there was no congestion at the immigration area in Heathrow’s T5.

“We are expecting an exceptionally busy weekend as usual for the end of February half term,” the UKBA said in a statement. “There will be a significant number of passengers coming through UK border controls and we have organised extra resources to ensure that we have sufficient staff to process passengers as quickly as possible, while maintaining border security.” © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds