Beginning next summer, travellers from outside the UK will be able to use the speedier electronic passport gates.
Currently only those with a UK, EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss biometric passport who are over the age of 18 can proceed through the gates which utilise facial recognition technology. However, an announcement made by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, as part of this year’s budget, has extended access to those with passports from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan - it is expected to to be in place by summer 2019.
Phillip Hammond stated “I can announce a package of measures to stimulate business investment and send a message loud and clear to the rest of the world: Britain is open for business”
The UK’s Board of Airline Representatives in the UK said of the announcement “This Summer, far too many visitors to the UK experienced appalling immigration queues and these plans should go some way to reducing queues on the manned desk.”
A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic declared “Virgin Atlantic welcomes today’s announcements that citizens from the UK’s most trusted security partners, including the United States and Australia will be able to use e-gates at UK airports. This is an important first step in reducing wait times for our customers when visiting the UK, ensuring they receive the welcome they deserve. With Christmas just around the corner, and another busy summer expected next year, the Government must act quickly to minimise disruption to those visiting the UK”.
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