As the world remembers the 15th anniversary of the tragedy that was 9/11, the latest border scheme to come out of the UK has been branded a ‘gimmick’ by staff unions, who called for increased staffing instead.
The UK Home Office has said that under the new scheme, travellers could choose to pay between £5 and £17.50 for a ‘fast-track’ passage through its borders. The proposed scheme will not be available at all airports, and will be trialled at Gatwick airport, leaving skeptics in some doubt that current staffing levels will be sufficient to cope with the different lanes. Concerns have also been raised for passengers who will not be willing to pay being left facing longer delays than they were before.
Branding the proposal as ‘ridiculous’, a spokesperson for the Public and Commercial Services union said, ‘This is a ridiculous idea that exposes just how understaffed our borders are. What happens if everyone opts to pay £5? We’re back to square one. Instead of gimmicks like this, the Government needs to properly invest in staff to work at ports and airports because the shortages are there for all to see.’
Nick Trend, consumer expert for Telegraph Travel said, ‘This confirms a growing trend of airports charging for services which should be efficient and free,’ following news that some UK airports already charge for a fast-track service. Continuing, he said, ‘The risk from the consumer point of view is that airports deliberately allow the queues to build up so that frustrated passengers feel the only way to have a decent experience of the airport is to pay more for the privilege.’
Technology is in place to streamline passenger facilitation and processing in an increasing number of airports around the world. Strengthening border control is of paramount importance in a world that has seen dramatic improvements since 9/11. Border technology providers, such as Rockwell Collins’ ARINC airports, aim to improve passenger flow with Common Use Identity Management – using integrated systems to increase airport resource management, security and passenger experience.
The UK’s Home Office has been openly criticised this week over the e-borders scheme, which was besieged by problems since it was launched in 2003, last year ending its current form, which proved to be completely ineffective.
The borders scheme, costing around £830 million originally intended to collect passenger data and perform analysis on all travellers arriving at and leaving the UK’s airports and seaports.
Many of the criticisms are regarding not only the spending acceleration of the project, but also its failure to meet its targets, with an estimated 20% of booking data being collected, compared to the 100% original target figure. Advance Passenger Information collection in September of this year was at 86%.
The original contract for the provision of the e-borders technology was cancelled, and a subsequent £150 million settlement was paid out-of-court.
While the system has been upgraded, the original e-borders scheme is way overdue, with an estimated completion date now set at around 2019, eight years past the intended deadline.
E-borders technology improvements all over the world are proving successful in the ability to track the movements of terror suspects and to minimise the risks to national security. The latest developments offer solutions using biometric data and self check in.
The UK Home Office maintain that despite the delays and problems with the implementation of the new e-borders system, all arrivals on UK shores are checked against national watch lists.
The Aviation Security Symposium and Awards (AVSEC) opening convocation in Dubai began with a warning from Emirates CEO, Sir Tim Clark, that both airlines and security professionals must keep pace by working together in the face of ever-increasing and sophisticated threats to global aviation.
Sir Clark said that ‘If the threats have changed, then so must the management of these threats,’ speaking of the 9/11 terror attacks and the issue of reliance of metal and x-ray detectors to screen passengers and cargo, making the assumption that security ‘has been enforced.’
While technological solutions are improving across the world, particularly in the area of biometrics screening, Clark also stressed that training and education of both professionals and the public about security threats is key to maintaining safety.
As countries all over the world look to make improvements to passenger processing and border security, the Dominican Republic now joins them as the latest country to subscribe to the Advance Passenger Information System.
Rockwell Collins are to provide a new border control system for the Dominican Republic in a new agreement that includes secure airport messaging and DCS integration.
Rockwell Collins’ ARINC solutions have long been at the forefront of airport security, with products that range from information management and IT integration to turnkey automated border security systems including eGates.
All over the world, automated passenger processing and pre-processing of travellers is streamlining the way we move through airports. Physical interaction with airport personnel is reducing as an increasing number of airports move towards automation.
While the threat of terrorism is still on the increase, automated passenger processing is still a growing requirement, and many believe that aviation security is only benefitting from automation and the use of passenger screening and processing technology.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has estimated that numbers of worldwide airline passengers will reach more than 7 billion by 2034 and automated passenger processing and security will be the only way to efficiently handle such volume.
An upgrade of western US’s airports and ports is to be deployed as part of the TSA’s mission to reinforce the security of national transport systems.
In a contract worth up to $450 million across western, eastern and Central America, the TSA mean to strengthen security under the Transportation Security Equipment Deployment Services (TEDS) project.
Lockheed Martin have received a contract for the western US and will install security technology equipment in several areas, covering airports, ports, cargo facilities and terminals.
All across the globe, borders are being strengthened and facility security providers are becoming ever-busier, as governments and agencies strive to install the latest that the security technology sector has to offer.
In a bid to speed up and tighten passenger processing, as many airports around the world are, Barcelona El Prat Airport have implemented the latest technology with biometric passport control that includes fingerprint and facial recognition features.
Biometric and automated border control systems function with the use of ePassports and e-ID cards and are designed to increase passenger processing time while strengthening security and integrate with other airport systems. Many such improvements in Europe are co-financed by the European Commission as part of a ‘Smart Borders Programme’.
Barcelona’ El Prat airport will now join many other Spanish airports, including Palma de Mallorca, Malaga and Alicante with the implementation of their new system.