Research by consumer magazine Which? Travel has found that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Alicante Airport in southern Spain would need to conduct an additional 201 hours of immigration checks on British passport holders, on average, every single day.
The potential delays for British holidaymakers would be due to the extra border checks required by Brussels if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. This would automatically make UK passport holders subject to the same checks as non-EU arrivals to Schengen Area countries such as Spain, France and Italy.
The European Tourism Association (Etoa) has estimated that these checks add an extra 90 seconds for each UK passport holder. To put that in context, it would take a single passport lane an extra 17,010 seconds – nearly five hours – to process the 189 passengers on a single Ryanair flight, if all those passengers were UK passport holders.
Alicante Airport currently copes with more than 8,000 UK arrivals on average per day. However, according to Which? Travel, as many as 10 planes arrive from the UK in a single hour during peak periods. Unless a reciprocal agreement is struck, or more staff and resources are put in place, UK travelers will face increased queues on arrival at Alicante and other popular Schengen Area airports after March 29, 2019.
Which? has identified the airports where UK passport holders are mostly likely to face disruption. Half of all arrivals to Faro Airport are from the UK, however, the Portuguese prime minister has announced plans to open special fast-track lanes for UK passport holders at both Faro and Funchal airports. This means Alicante Airport is where UK holidaymakers are most likely to face longer queues this summer given that 43% of all arrivals are from the UK. According to Which?, the estimated 201 hours of immigration checks needed each day at Alicante could require as many as 25 new staff and passport lanes.
Spanish airports will be particularly affected by the new rules. Six of the 10 busiest airports for UK arrivals are on mainland Spain or its islands. Tenerife South, Lanzarote, Malaga, Ibiza and Palma de Mallorca airports also face severe disruption without a contingency plan to open new lanes or employ more staff.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said, “Airports can be chaotic at the best of times, but if additional checks at passport control in Spain, Italy and other popular EU destinations are implemented in the event of a no deal, it seems that very long queues are going to be an unwanted side effect.
“Until there is a deal, or these airports announce simpler arrangements, you should consider what you may need if you have to fly to them – as it is very likely that you’ll be in a queue for several hours. Make sure you have food, water and essentials for kids like nappies to hand.”
To read the original publication by Which? Travel, click here.