Queues at several airports have been blamed on new Covid travel rules and the Home Office has admitted Border Force has been hit by short-staffing as workers self-isolate
Image: Jennifer Stanley)
Frustrated travellers have been stuck in long lines at Manchester Airport, where passengers were met with scenes of luggage piled up on conveyor belts and floors.
Pictures showed hundreds of passengers lined up in huge, snaking queues as they waited at border control for Covid checks at the airport’s new Terminal 2.
Photos also showed luggage and suitcases overflowing from the conveyor belts and becoming strewn across the floor at arrivals, the Manchester Evening News reports.
A spokesperson for Manchester Airport said: “We are aware that queues at the border this afternoon were longer than usual
“Immigration checks are the responsibility of UK Border Force and we will review events with them to understand how these circumstances arose, and to ensure that passengers enjoy the best possible experience going forward.”
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It comes as the travel industry continues to face problems during the coronavirus pandemic – and as the Home Office admitted Border Force is struggling with staff shortages.
There were similar queues at Heathrow Airport on Friday night, where passengers claimed they were stuck in queues for five hours, and complained about a lack of social distancing.
Pictures showed lines of hundreds of people standing in close proximity prompting MPs to demand the Home Office take urgent action.
Families said they faced long waits as children under 12 could not use e-gates due to limitations with the facial recognition technology.
The delays have been an issue throughout the week for passengers at some airports as Border Force staff worked to check travellers were following the Covid travel rules.
The Home Office challenged claims of the length of time people waited in queues, but admitted there has been a staff shortage as many Border Force agents were forced off work to self-isolate.
Pictures of people packed in closely together sparked fears that Covid would spread among people waiting at airports.
A Home Office spokesperson previously said: “Our utmost priority is protecting the safety and health of the public and we will never compromise on security, and on ensuring passengers are compliant with the current health measures, which means passengers will need to accept an increase in the time taken to cross the border.”
The need to complete Covid testing has increased the amount of checks passengers need to undergo before they can board a plane or re-enter the country.
The queues at Terminal 2 at Manchester Airport come after the building had a major refurbishment as part of a £1bn transformation.
The redevelopment includes 15 new restaurants, bars and shops, as well as 10 29-metre security lanes in the check out hall to departures.
Speaking as the new terminal opened to passengers in July, Karen Smart, Managing Director of Manchester Airport, said: “It is a proud milestone for our airport as we begin to emerge from the restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 crisis, and an important moment in our 83-year history.”
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