Major delays as UK airports hit by border system issue

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Passengers flying into Britain are facing major delays after landing at airports due to a nationwide issue affecting the automated border control gates that scan passports upon arrival.

Images posted on social media on Saturday showed long queues with hundreds of people at London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports, with frustrated passengers complaining of having to wait several hours in line.

"We are aware of a nationwide border system issue affecting arrivals into the UK," a representative for the British government's interior ministry, which has oversight of border control, told Reuters.

"We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and are liaising with port operators and airlines to minimise disruption for travellers."

Heathrow, Britain's busiest airport, said it had deployed extra staff to manage the queues and was working with Border Force to help resolve the problem.

While many foreign visitors to the UK need to see a border control officer upon landing, others, including British, EU and US citizens, can use the automated gates known as e-gates to scan their passports and enter the country.

The disruption, which comes during a busy period for travel in Britain with a bank holiday on Monday and a half-term break for schools next week, means all passengers have to be processed at manual checkpoints.

British airlines and airports have faced other disruptions in the past year including separate strikes involving airport staff and Border Force workers as well as cancelled flights caused by staff shortages last summer.