Passengers landing at UK airports could be in for longer queues after Brexit, airports have warned.
The Airport Operators Association (AOA) has said that that stricter passport checks would have knock-on effects on waiting times.
Currently, EU nationals are able to use electronic ePassport gates or a separate screening system when they land in Britain, while citizens of other countries face a “hard border” regime, which involves them being quizzed about the purpose of their visit.
The AOA, which represents more than 50 airports in the UK, said that it would be “highly disruptive” if all passengers arriving from overseas faced the same full border checks, the BBC reported.
In a submission made to the House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee, the AOA raised fears that already the Border Force does not have enough resources to properly manage the arrival of passengers at UK airports, noting that its budget has decreased while traveller numbers have increased.
There is also likely to be a “considerable” economic impact of millions of pounds due to hold-ups at the border, the association said.
The AOA warned that an increase in passport checks and processing times could have the knock-on effect of deterring people from visiting the UK, since it would seem like an “unwelcoming destination”.
It added: “This would be damaging for the UK’s reputation aboard at a time when we want to demonstrate to visitors from abroad that the country is open for business.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are about to begin negotiations with the EU and it would be wrong to set out further positions in advance, but we are clear that Border Force has the capacity to meet passenger demand and maintain security.
“Our Border Force officers currently clear passengers within our agreed waiting times in more than 95% of cases and will continue to carry out stringent checks on 100% of scheduled passengers arriving in the UK.”