Heathrow may divert planes to deal with airport overcrowding

May 13, 2021

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Fears of massive overcrowding as travelers resume flying this summer has officials at London Heathrow Airport considering diverting airplanes to other airports as a last-resort measure.

With concerns that queues at Heathrow could be as long as six hours for border checks once the non-essential travel ban has lifted — including a social distancing nightmare — airport authorities are discussing sending aircraft to other U.K. airports and EU hubs to ease congestion. The news comes after a previous warning that backups at Heathrow could lead to passengers being forced to wait on planes for the crowds to ease up.

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Officials at Heathrow say more staff are needed to process passengers at the border in an efficient manner and called on the Border Force to take more action.

“Instead of telling passengers to brace themselves for a long wait in immigration queues, Border Force should step up its efforts to automate checks for green list countries, and put in place additional resource for passengers where manual checks might be needed,” a Heathrow spokesperson said.

A Home Office representative told the BBC  that resuming e-Gate operations this summer remains on target and adding more officers for border checks is also planned.

“Protecting public health is our priority and as we reopen international travel safely we will maintain 100% health checks at the border to protect the wider public and our vaccine rollout,” the spokesperson added.

Another problem already causing delays that could get much worse once people resume traveling en masse? Travelers who don’t have their documentation in order. With COVID-19 restrictions still in effect, this is essential to minimize delays. We outlined steps for travelers to follow if they’re flying into Heathrow. Read them here.

Featured photo by Andrew Holt/Getty Images.

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