Manila’s Bureau of Immigration (BI) is set to introduce APIS in a bid to exclude unwanted foreign visitors. The Advance Passenger Information System, mandatory for U.S. travellers, will be operational following government approval.
The BI commissioner, Mr Siegfred Mison said on Friday that ‘immigration authorities from countries where passengers originated will be required to submit names and personal circumstances of passengers boarding airlines and ships bound for the Philippines, allowing those with derogatory records to be segregated pending further security checks’.
The planned introduction of APIS is a part of preparations for two big events in Manila’s calendar, namely the visit of Pope Francis in January 2015 and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference (APEC) in November.
“As soon as the measure is approved we will bid it to interested parties the APIS scan data base which will receive and accept the information sent by the BI foreign counterparts,” said Mison.
Last month saw a new agreement signed on the process, collection and transfer of Passenger Name Record details by air carriers to the authorities in Canada. The new terms supersede the current agreement made in 2006.
A legal framework will be established for the transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data by carriers operating flights between the EU and Canada. Transmission of the passenger data must remain secure and transfer to the correct authority must be ensured. Subsequent use of the data by the authorities must remain secure.
PNR data is used for the prevention of and the detection of terrorist activity or serious crime and the subsequent investigation and prosecution of the said activity if necessary.
Before the agreement is put into place, consent must be obtained from the European Parliament, and then the EU Council of Ministers can adopt its decision on the conclusion of the agreement. Similar agreements for the transfer of Passenger name Record information are in place with the USA and Australia.
Last week we saw a call from the U.S. and the U.K. to boost security in airports across the countries as the threat of Islamic radical activities raised its ugly head once more. This week we see France following suit with a boost in passenger screening at its airports. Those most likely affected will be Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Heathrow in the U.K. receiving a combined average of 2.5 million passengers per day.
The enhanced passenger screening procedure may cause delays for travellers, but the consensus is that it is a greater priority to keep passengers, flight crew and aircraft safe from threat. Both French and British authorities have advised passengers to allow extra time to pass through the enhanced screening procedures.
It is not clear what is involved, but it is thought to be focussed upon footwear and electronic devices, such as mobile phones, tablets and computers. Earlier today, there were reports centred upon the use of mobile phones to carry complex explosive devices. Particular attention was being paid to those phones that are not fully charged, or at least able to be switched on with battery life remaining.
In a bid to enhance security and to check smuggling, Indira Ghandi International Airport (IGIA) has received the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) to keep track of passengers.
The system, put in place by the customs department, will provide an electronic database of all passengers, crew and airline staff that flow in and out of the airport. APIS systems are mandatory in the US and flag high-risk passengers while expediting the movements of low-risk passengers. The system maintains a high security situation, while streamlining ground operations and minimising delays.
The system will run as a pilot project within IGIA in the short term, with a plan to implement the Advanced Passenger Information System at all other international airports across the country. It is estimated that more than 3,000kg of gold is smuggled into the country every month and the new security measures will assist officials to keep track of ‘red flag’ passengers.
Providers of APIS systems, such as ARINC, can implement the solution tailored to the individual requirements of each airport, regardless of size or capacity.
The Royal Oman Police have issued a warning to citizens wishing to travel abroad to ensure that passports due to expire within the next six months are renewed to avoid problems at their destination airport. At the moment, airlines take only the name of the passenger before the issue of tickets.
This follows repeated complaints from travellers to many countries that refuse to accept passports with less than six months before the expiry time. Although the rules are in place, travellers still neglect to renew, yet still complain.
The upcoming mandates for advance passenger information will soon be in place and passports due to expire will be recognised immediately and ticket issue will be denied in advance. According to official sources, 99% of travel agencies do advise passengers to check the dates of issue and expiry in their passports, but still the problem remains.
Advance passenger information systems are mandatory in the US and this trend is spreading across the globe as aviation security measures tighten. The API system enables governments and border agencies to track and monitor the movement of passengers across the world, and identify high risk passengers in time to perform additional security checks, whilst expediting low risk travellers. The system helps to streamline the passenger processing system and minimises ground delays and associated costs.
Once advance passenger information is in operation, passengers will be required to provide passport as well as personal details before travel. The expectation is that there will be an influx of passport renewals in the Oman, which is likely to cause severe delays within the system. Those wishing to travel are strongly advised to check their passports in advance.
In a bid to make the travel experience for passengers as smooth as possible, the Philippines will make the implementation of Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) next year. Carried out jointly with the Department of Justice, Department of Budget and Management Bureau of Immigration, the vital data concerning all passengers will be assessed between 120 hours to 15 minutes prior to departure.
Aside from the security aspects of reliable APIS, the Philippines have long been struggling with efficiencies on the ground, as flights tend to arrive quickly, in succession. The long ground delays have been a problem, causing chaos within terminals as passengers endure queues, hold-ups in baggage areas and a lack of trolleys.
Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. said, “The ideal travel experience is one without interruption. We want the entry of travellers into the Philippines to become as smooth and seamless as possible so we need an efficient tool such as an electronic API. This would avoid long queue in our airports, as we can already identify passengers who are ‘bad’ or ‘good.’ But, of course, we have to have a balance between border control/security with that of ease of entry into our airports.”
The benefits of APIS are clear to see and easy to implement. “All we have to do is to synchronize the system with that of the Philippines government. It will be up to the Philippines authorities to align their systems with the airline companies’ systems,” explained Roberto Lim, IATA Country Manager for the Philippines.
Streamlining passenger processes are just one of the advantages of APIS implementation. The ability to screen passengers in advance gives the authorities the opportunity to spot ‘at risk’ travellers and expedite ‘safe’ ones. Providers of APIS technology offer secure and reliable ways of APIS delivery across the world.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) today called for greater use to be made of Advanced Passenger Information System data as the industry still reels in the aftermath of the missing flight MH370 search.
Director General of IATA, Mr Tony Tyler said, ‘It is important to remember that airlines aren’t border guards or policemen, the checking of passports is the well-established responsibility of governments.’ His comments were made at a conference in the Malaysian Capital earlier this week as he spoke of the need for a review of government data-review procedures, which would importantly include the comparison of names against Interpol’s lost and stolen passport lists. Although no link has been established with the two Iranian passengers that boarded with stolen passports and any terrorist organisation, the fact that they were allowed on board ‘rings alarm bells.’
In addition to Advanced Passenger Information System data, Mr Tyler, who is also a former chief executive for Cathay Pacific Airways, placed emphasis upon a need for better aircraft tracking. ‘In a world where our every move seems to be tracked, there is disbelief both that an aircraft could simply disappear and that the flight data and cockpit voice recorders are so difficult to recover,’ he said.
IATA plan to assemble a team of experts to study the available options for aircraft tracking, which is expected to reveal its conclusions at the end of the year.
It has been revealed that as many as 20 million passports per year may not be receiving proper consideration in the UK alone. These shocking figures come as the Home Office estimated that only 90% of Advanced Passenger Information (API) is being received. API is passenger data that is electronically gathered and transmitted to government and border agencies for checking and comparison to international ‘at risk’ registers. API can detect high risk passengers on ‘no-fly’ lists across the world and can ensure that terrorist activity is kept at bay.
If these estimates tell us that 10% of UK API is not being received, this could spell an average of 20 million passports that are not being checked properly. Interpol say that countries are not doing enough checks against its list of stolen passports. Globally, this figure could reach up to one billion passengers; a disturbing figure.
API is mandatory for all passengers travelling to and from the US and has been so in the wake of the official investigation into the tragic events of 9/11. Last year, the EU questioned the use of API with regard to the privacy aspect and raised issues about the use of the information, once gathered and checked.
Once reported stolen, UK passports are cancelled and deemed unusable for travel. International stolen passports are entered into the Interpol Lost and Stolen Database, accessible by border security agencies for comparison.
The Home Office are looking into the figures to clarify the situation and are working towards improving coverage.
It has been announced that FltPlan.com, North America’s largest flight planning service provider, has been approved and selected to work with the Mexican government to implement their plans for the submission of Advanced Passenger Information.
Mexico’s National Institute of Immigration (INM) announced last month that, in order to improve its ability to process passengers more efficiently, it needed to employ APIS for the submission of the passenger data within 30 minutes of departure.
The Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) allows passenger information to be processed in the destination country before touchdown, which enhances border control, identifying high-risk passengers and expediting low-risk individuals.
The transmission of API is mandatory in the U.S. and is spreading across the globe in the fight against terrorism.
New rules from Mexico’s National Institute of Immigration (INM) have prompted FltPlan to expand the capabilities of its current eAPIS system. FltPlan president Ken Wilson said the rules now require Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) manifests be submitted within 30 minutes of any aircraft closing its doors, and warned that breaching them could result in fines of up to $5,000.
Wilson reflected that FltPlan’s five-year plus experience in eAPIS systems and their early adoption of U.S. Customs and Border Protection certification for submission of passenger information made for a relatively easy transition when working with the Mexican government.
FltPlan, which recently exhibited at NBAA’s Schedulers & Dispatchers conference in New Orleans, said its aim was to provide a low-cost, specialist solution. Current annual subscription rates to its eAPIS system are $249, and the Mexico service an additional £200, with $20 per manifest ($40 for a round trip from the U.S. to Mexico).