The long queues endured by passengers at British airports are as much caused by wind as they are by border control procedures, the Immigration Minister said today.
Damian Green told MPs introducing risk-based security checks would not solve the problem of lengthy delays and highlighted the weather as a factor.
He added it was “not at all obvious” that any extra controls would reduce queues at all, perhaps instead causing non-EU travellers further delays. In an appearance at the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, he said the time passengers would be forced to wait to pass through immigration would be determined by the time their aeroplane arrived. This in turn would be dictated by the wind, he said. Mr Green, who has faced much criticism in recent weeks regarding queues at Heathrow Airport, explained those travelling to London’s Heathrow Airport from New York might take longer to clear security if their flight arrived after one from Lagos, Nigeria, than if it landed earlier.
He said: “That will depend on the wind, over which, with the best will in the world, airlines and the Border Force don’t have the control.”
Mr Green said he was not against the introduction of risk-based controls, but a pilot last year was tainted by abuse which saw unauthorised queue-based controls being used instead.