By Chris Bradley
Passengers travelling from Malaga to Bournemouth last Wednesday were stunned when they were able to walk straight through passport control without showing their passports. Reports suggest that there were no officials from the UK Border Agency present when the flight landed so the 180 travellers were able to enter the country completely freely with no security checks at all.
Worryingly, the same passengers also reported lax security checks at Malaga airport meaning that illegal entry to the UK is not only possible but quite probable. A UK Border Agency spokesman laid the blame at the feet of the airline, saying “We were not notified on this occasion until passengers had passed through to the baggage reclaim area. We are concerned that this situation occurred and we are working with the airport to ensure it does not happen again.” A representative from Bournemouth airport indicated that they too were concerned and an urgent investigation was underway as to why operational staff had allowed passengers to enter the terminal building before checking that the UK Border Agency officials were present.
To complicate matters further, a representative from Servisair, the airport operations provider, passed the buck, commenting that UK Border Agency staff had failed to check the arrivals board and were not aware of the incoming flight. He added that Servisair staff had followed correct procedure, assuming that Border Agency officials were waiting to receive the passengers.
An investigation between the Immigration department and airport staff is ongoing.