Border queues are bad for UK business, says ATPI
- Category: Agency & Association
- Created on Friday, 04 May 2012 09:20
Border queues are bad for UK business, says ATPILeading corporate travel and events organiser the ATPI Group has warned that on-going delays at the UK’s airports are damaging the country’s business reputation overseas.
Scenes of large queues at Heathrow and other regional gateways have already prompted enquiries from concerned business travellers over the last two weeks, with many asking if they should proceed with planned trips to the UK. Whilst queues may not have been as extensive as those reported, strong actions are needed to reinforce that Britain is open for business, and that efficiency can be restored quickly.
The ATPI Group’s Chief Operating Officer for Europe and the USA, Peter Muller, said: “What is particularly concerning is that news of the airport delays is spreading abroad. Reporting of the queues mentions the understaffing at border controls, which shows the country in a very poor light. People are wondering how we are going to cope in the summer when the airports get really busy.”
Muller added that the biggest concerns were from non-EU nationals who know they face much longer delays than European visitors when arriving.
“The limited availability of the IRIS scanners and the fact that Fast Track facilities for business passengers are often closed during some peak periods has become a serious issue for corporate travellers.
“To make matters worse, the Government’s suggestion about additional charges on airlines to pay for more staff has been unpopular. Business travellers contribute significant sums in Air Passenger Duty already and don’t understand how the border controls can be poorly resourced when so much in tax is added to their travel costs. The last thing Britain needs is to be seen as expensive and difficult to do business in.
“People don’t mind waiting when they can see airports are properly resourced. There are often long queues on arrival at US airports, for example, but at least travellers see lots of staff on duty and that they are carrying out necessary security checks.”
As a response, the ATPI Group wants to see that Britain is sending a message of being open for business. This includes adequately staffed border controls offering a smooth transition into the country, and options such as Fast Track facilities for business travellers prioritised in recognition of the economic benefits they bring.