(CNN) – Images of long queues with captions referring to several hours of waiting at London’s Heathrow Airport have surfaced on social media, prompting the airport’s press office to criticize the British Border Force Saturday.
“We are very sorry that the passengers faced unacceptable immigration queues last night (Friday) due to too few Border Force officers on duty,” a spokesperson said on Saturday. from Heathrow in a statement.
“The border forces were aware of the additional demand from the families and we were very disappointed that they did not provide sufficient resources,” the statement added.
The Border Force comes under the Interior Ministry, which responded on Saturday admitting that the situation was “unacceptable”.
“Throughout the pandemic we have made it clear that wait times may be longer as we make sure all passengers adhere to the health measures put in place to keep the UK public safe. very long wait times which we saw at Heathrow last night are unacceptable, “the Home Office said in a statement.
The airport experiences “the busiest weekends of the year for returning passengers, with a particularly high number of families with children under 12 who cannot use electronic gates,” the statement said. .
Electronic gates are automated self-service stations that use facial recognition technology, but people traveling with children 12 and under are not allowed to use them.
“Border Force is rapidly revising its rosters and capacity and flexibly deploying our staff across the airport to improve wait times,” the Home Office said.
The Heathrow press office said it has made its own staff available to help manage the lines, while stressing the need to staff each immigration office during peak hours.
The office said it escalated the matter to border forces so that they could “provide better service for the rest of the weekend.”