Passengers flying internationally from airports all over Australia and New Zealand, today faced hours of delays after a global passenger processing system experienced a failure.
In some of Australia’s biggest airports, personnel had to perform passenger check-in manually for three hours before the system came back online.
The Advance Passenger Processing System, known as APP, handles mandatory reporting of passenger data for all international flights, according to Australia’s Dept. of Immigration and Border Protection.
Similar systems are in use in other global regions, such as the U.S.’s Advance Passenger Information System, also widely in use in Europe, according to provider.
The systems are designed to meet mandatory regulations for the secure collection, storage and electronic transfer of international passenger information. Such information is sent in advance of flight departure to government and border agencies for security screening.
It has been confirmed that all systems were back up and running after three hours of outage, and appears to have been a global issue.
Zambia is getting ready to adapt its border control as a part of its program to target 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The deployment of electronic border management will address four of these goals in Zambia’s preparations to include migration and human mobility.
Already launched last year, the e-VISA is an additional part of the program, aimed at implementing procedures to protect vulnerable migrants.
The introduction of electronic border management offers increased flexibility and efficiency, while maintaining key border security, protecting both the traveller and the country’s borders.
The latest border management systems include integration and support for evolving technologies and an additional layer of security for the advance screening of passengers and flight crew, with entry and exit management procedures streamlined to enable enhanced coordination of resources for airlines, airports, customs and immigration.
Malta’s Police Force’s Immigration Unit has completed five projects to enhance border security measures with the help of co-funding from European Border Funds.
The projects include the procurement of additional radios and biometric devices to assist in communications and comparison of passenger data with international no-fly lists. The new technology is designed to halt the passage of illegal residents, with an on-the-spot ability to screen information.
Furthermore, modernisation of the border control system has been focussed upon, with health and safety upgrades made, in addition to an upgrade of equipment.
Finally, Malta has introduced a system for the collection of Advance Passenger Information to strengthen border security. Many countries throughout the world are enhancing border control measures and providers are using the latest technological advancements to introduce stronger systems including eBorders technology.
David Cameron has urged the European Parliament to approve a directive to enable Passenger Name Record (PNR) data sharing across the EU nations. The deal, which was agreed in principle last month, will, according to the UK Prime Minister, provide an ‘important tool in combatting terrorism and serious crime’.
PNR data contains passenger flight details such as names, seat numbers, ticket payment information and flight dates. Passenger data exchange is securely transmitted and permitted for use only for security purposes.
As countries around the world join the fight against terrorism and strive to improve their border security, South Korea make changes following a test period that saw them refuse 157 travellers from Thailand.
Previously, South Korea received passenger data via APIS after flights had left the originating airport. Then, if any passenger was ‘flagged’, airlines would have to return them to the point of departure, causing delays and incurring expense.
Now, the changes suggest that South Korea will require Advance Passenger Information before tickets are issued. The information will be screened by the ministry and only after approval, will tickets be sold to the passengers.
A statement from the South Korean Ministry said that the aim is to ‘strengthen the aviation safety and border security by analysing the passenger information in advance.’
At the Global Airport Leaders Forum in Dubai last week, the UAE Minister of Economy and Commerce and GCAA Chairman HE Eng. Sultan Al Mansoori predicted that the UAE will have one of the busiest airspaces in the world within the next 15 years.
Commenting on this suspected growth, the Minister said that major technology investments will be required to ‘keep up with the new challenges’.
He also reiterated that the introduction of Advance Passenger Information earlier this year, with operations based in the Abu Dhabi dedicated Centre for API, was a ‘model to maintaining border security’.
The requirement of API is increasing around the globe and is a step in the right direction to track the movement of high-risk travellers and expediting low-risk passengers.
As Vietnam joins the fast-spreading enhancement in border security with the implementation of Advance Passenger Information (API) data transfer, the implementation of Rockwell Collins’ ARINC Border Management solution has already resulted in a 90% improvement of passenger processing times and 80% increase in the quality of information, which was previously handled manually.
The ARINC BMS has been implemented at all Vietnam’s international airports and provides system monitoring and analysis of API data, allowing the border authorities to screen vital passenger data before the aircraft lands, thus maximising efficient operations and increasing security. Currently 41 airlines are using the system, which is designed to flag passenger data that falls outside the pre-defined parameters.
The Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam issued Decree 27 in spring 2011 to request API data from passengers and crew of all airline traffic, both commercial and private, to come into line with IATA standards. According to IATA data, Vietnam’s passenger flow increased by 96% between 2008 and 2013, and this increase let to the investment in the new system implementation.
A new proposal put to Brussels this week has sparked controversy once again with advocates of privacy in the EU. Following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris and the Brussels Jewish Museum shootings last year, the European security services have stepped up measures to detect travellers joining or returning from war in Syria and Iraq and feel that sharing airline passenger data, via Passenger Name Records (PNR) or a system similar to that in place between Europe and the U.S. in the form of Advance Passenger Information (API) would be a step closer to helping to achieve their goal.
Access to personal information across the EU by the intelligence services remains in fierce debate, particularly in countries such as Germany, who were outraged over the accusations of mass surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies after the attacks of 9/11.
Jan Albreicht, German member of the European Parliament said, “We need to deliver whatever is necessary and proportionate to get a higher level of security. But what you are proposing now, the proposal of blanket mass surveillance of citizens, is exactly the opposite of that. It’s not delivering that.”
Anti-terror measures have become a security priority for the EU and passenger data sharing is at the top of the list in terms of monitoring the movements of suspected high-risk travellers.
Timothy Kirkhope, British member of the European Parliament said, “We need now to make sure we have enough information to look at patterns of behaviour. That is the basis on which we can find criminals and find terrorists in order to protect our citizens. Stop things happening such as the atrocities in Paris recently.”
Canada’s Border Services Agency is working towards a U.S.-style Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) to protect its borders and is hoping for complete implementation by spring 2016.
A survey has been created by the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) to assess how the new requirements will impact Canadian and U.S. pilots crossing the borders in a bid to make the transition as seamless as possible.
“This survey will provide statistical feedback to Canadian and US officials to find a solution that both addresses their goals and minimizes duplication,” said COPA Vice President of Operations Patrick Gilligan. “COPA is heavily involved in finding creative solutions to minimize the detrimental consequences that any additional requirements will have on our sector of aviation.”
The survey, which can be completed anonymously if required, will aim to assess the general ‘feeling’ of pilots conducting cross-border leisure and personal flights – whether they think that the implementation of a system will impact flight operations in a detrimental way.
The survey will also attempt to gain a general consensus about the introduction of a single portal for the transmission of pilot and passenger data to the Canadian Border Services Agency.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) are working with COPA to ensure that the implementation of an eAPIS mandate remains seamless.
“We’re really working to find a way to make this as transparent as possible,” said Tom Zecha, AOPA manager of aviation security. “We encourage AOPA members who cross the border—or even those who don’t but think they might someday—to complete the survey to convey the impact a duplicate system would have on cross-border operations.”
UAE passengers bound for the U.S. will be able to enjoy immigration pre-clearance from this week, avoiding queues on arrival by undertaking immigration, customs and agriculture inspections at terminal three of Abu Dhabi airport where U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) facilities are in place.
Conditional requirements will be the provision of Advance Passenger Information and an individual, machine-readable passport. In addition, passengers must also produce a return or onward ticket for departure from the U.S. within a 90-day window of departure.
For passengers of Etihad Airways flying to New York JFK, Chicago, Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Dallas, the service will be available from January 15. The facility is currently available in six other countries and 15 airports outside North America.