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Gatwick calls for double jabbed to be spared tests as huge airport queues spread

Images posted on social media have revealed the ‘horrific’ queues to get through some UK airports, including Heathrow, as people vented their frustration

The long queues have been seen at airports for days

As passengers continue to face huge queues at the country’s major air hubs airport bosses have called for the end of Covid testing for double jabbed travellers.

Chaos at the UK’s main airports in recent days has left weary holidaymakers stranded in long queues for hours.

Images posted on social media revealed the ‘horrific’ queues to get through Heathrow Airport as people vented their frustration.

And in Manchester one elderly passengers is said to have fainted as the queues at the airport piled up with many forced to wait for hours.

The situation became so bad that the Home Office admitted the huge queues at Heathrow – where a pregnant woman fainted on Friday night – were “unacceptable.”



The Home Office said it was ‘unacceptable’
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Image:

REUTERS)




Now, the Mail Online reports that airport bosses want a relaxation of the Covid testing entry requirements to combat the queues.

Passengers stuck in the ‘total chaos’ of the queues at Heathrow, Luton and Manchester said they had ‘never seen anything like it.’

In a statemen t, Gatwick Airport chiefs said they were calling on the government to ‘throw a lifeline’ to the UK aviation industry by removing the testing requirement for double jabbed travellers.

Quarantine should remain for those flying in to the country from red list zones, they said.



Airport bosses want Covid testing rules to change
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Image:

Guy Faulconbridge/Twitter)




Stewart Wingate, Gatwick CEO, said: “With vaccination rates across Europe comparable, if not better, than the UK’s, the time has come for testing to be removed altogether for travellers who have been double jabbed.

“Other countries have done this and their aviation sectors are recovering much faster with bookings in Europe recovering twice as fast as in the UK.

“Our continued travel restrictions are out of step with much of Europe and continue to have a real impact on jobs and livelihoods, business and growth opportunities while also keeping friends and family apart.

“Passenger confidence in the UK has been shattered and the UK travel industry urgently needs thrown a lifeline so that we can start to recover properly from the most difficult period in our history.”



There have been reports of passengers fainting as they queued for hours




Travellers again described ‘total chaos’ at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 while there were ‘massive queues’ at Luton and Manchester.

Speaking to the Mail one woman caught up in the chaos said: “I’ve never seen anything like it. There were massive queues […] arguments breaking out with staff about the number of broken e-gates.

“It seems like the whole terminal is in total chaos.”

There were also queues seen at Luton yesterday afternoon as well as similar scenes already seen at Manchester’s Terminal 2.

Anastasia Tolmacova filmed the queues at Luton Airport, showing hundreds of people waiting in the terminal.

She said: “Massive queues at London Luton airport past midnight. Any social distancing is virtually impossible. Why do we have to pay extra for overpriced Covid tests when the situation at the border is so poorly managed?”

Answering for the queues the Home Office previously admitted it was “unacceptable.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic we have been clear that queue times may be longer as we ensure all passengers are compliant with the health measures put in place to keep the UK public safe. However, the very long wait times we saw at Heathrow last night are unacceptable.

“This is the busiest weekend of the year for returning passengers, with particularly high numbers of families with children under the age of 12 who cannot use e-gates.



It had been the busiest weekend of the year for returning passengers
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Image:

Guy Faulconbridge/Twitter)




“Border Force is rapidly reviewing its rosters and capacity and flexibly deploying our staff across the airport to improve waiting times. We are working very closely with Heathrow Airport and its airlines and we are all committed to making sure all passengers can have a safe and hassle-free journey.”

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.”









On Saturday afternoon, a Heathrow spokeswoman said: “We are very sorry that passengers faced unacceptable queueing times in immigration last night due to too few Border Force officers on duty.

“Border Force were aware of the extra demand from families and we were very disappointed that they did not provide sufficient resource.

“Additional Heathrow colleagues supported in managing queues and handed out passenger welfare including water, but we need every immigration desk to be staffed at peak times.”



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