London: Amidst new reports of lengthy queues at immigration controls at Heathrow airport, Britain has promised that officials were "fully prepared" to deal with the busy Olympics period later this month.

Scenes of chaos at Heathrow immigration in April had prompted an outcry, leading MPs to call the situation a national embarrassment.

Additional personnel were drafted in to deal with the situation, but latest reports suggest that passengers continue to face lengthy delays.

A UK Border Force spokeswoman said the queues reported last Friday at Heathrow had been "less than an hour" and that extra staff had been deployed to deal with them.

She said: "We are fully prepared for the busy Olympic period and will be implementing our well-rehearsed plans. This includes staffing all immigration desks at key ports whenever necessary during the peak Olympic and Paralympic arrivals period".

Airport operator BAA admitted that waiting times at immigration had been "unacceptably long" in recent days.

A BAA spokesman said: "Immigration is a matter for the Home Office. The Home Office has said that from July 15 all Border Force desks at Heathrow will be open during peak arrival periods".

He added: "Immigration waiting times for passengers during peak periods at Heathrow in the last few days have been unacceptably long and the Home Office should be delivering a good experience for regular passengers as well as Olympic visitors".

There were half-mile queues at Heathrow's Terminal 4 last Friday, while pictures in the paper showed empty immigration desks.

The Immigration Service Union, which represents 4,500 border staff, told the daily that the present problems were being made worse as only about half the current workers were fully trained to allow passengers from anywhere in the world entry.

The official target waiting time non-EU passport holders going through immigration at Heathrow in less than 45 minutes and the target for EU passport holders is less than 25 minutes.


Latest News from India News Desk