British Airways CEO Wants to Make London Heathrow Less Miserable
Visitors to the UK have been growing increasingly frustrated with London's Heathrow Airport (LHR). Throughout the summer, the line for immigration at the busiest airport in Europe has been hours long (including one day when the border officers "abandoned" their posts to watch the World Cup).
British Airways CEO Alex Cruz also finds that the typical two-hour wait for passengers to get their passports checked is unacceptable, calling the checkpoint a "border farce" in a letter to the editor of the Times of London on Monday. Cruz wants the UK government to take action to address the issues with LHR's immigration, which he says is worse than any other airport in Europe.
Cruz also said it makes the nation look bad as it prepares to leave the European Union. "What kind of message does this send, as we try to build links outside the EU?" Cruz wrote, adding that the wait times should be no more than 45 minutes.
British Airways is the UK's flag carrier and biggest airline, and its home base is Heathrow.
In June, BA issued a warning to the airport that its passport lines were "totally unacceptable," and blamed the wait times on a deficit of Border Force staff and the closure of large amounts of e-gates that electronically process visitors' passports.
Britain's Home Office, which oversees the immigration checkpoints, pushed back against Cruz, arguing that "the vast majority" of passengers from outside of Europe visiting the UK pass through immigration "within our service standards."