Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence

6.  Memorandum submitted by the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK)


  BAR UK represents 90 scheduled airlines in the United Kingdom in their dealings with Government, regulators and airport operators.

  The opportunity is welcomed to respond to the Home Affairs Committee's inquiry into Immigration Control, and does so primarily in respect of e-Borders.

    (a)  BAR UK members work with the Immigration authorities in several ways to ensure that passengers comply with the UK's documentation and visa requirements, and by handling the many issues that arise when they do not.

    (b)  BAR UK is engaged with the Home Office in the development of the e-Borders programme, and its processes.

    (c)  E-Borders must not be developed on a stand-alone basis, and international industry standards need to be agreed.

    (d)  Benefits must also accrue the airline community, and its passengers.

    (e)  The costs for e-Borders are not recognised as being those of the airline community or its passengers.

  This response is required to be brief, so BAR UK will be pleased to assist the Home Affairs Committee by providing more information as, and when, it may be required.


  1.  Our members have a responsibility to ensure that all passengers have the correct passport and any visa documentation as may be required, to enter the UK.

  2.  Incorrectly documented passengers generally lead to fines and detention costs being incurred by airlines.

  3.  Additionally, our airlines incur considerable costs in respect of:

    —  returning deportees to their country of origin, often at a full fare on another airline;

    —  the costs of "presenting" arriving passengers to the immigration authorities at major airports; and

    —  the training and operation of Approved Gate Check status at overseas airports.

  4.  A number of our member airlines have also engaged with the immigration authorities in respect of:

    —  the voluntary copying of documents overseas, to stem illegal immigrants;

    —  Operation Semaphore, to test e-Border processes (see below); and

    —  the provision of data sharing with the various agencies in respect of immigration issues.

  5.  BAR UK, and its members, are actively working with the Home Office in regard to the development of e-Borders, for which the "Authority to Carry (ATC)" scheme is core to it.

  6.  The data transmission required for ATC is costly, and will extend check-in times. Individually, this time may not be great but, cumulatively for any one flight, could be considerable.

  7.  The development of e-Borders is being piloted through a programme known as "Operation Semaphore". This involves a select number of BAR UK member airlines working in cooperation with the Home Office on a good spread of routes, using passenger information devolved from two sources, namely check-in and passports.

  8.  There are distinct features and benefits accruing to the Immigration authorities. Those that may accrue to airlines, and their passengers, have not yet been determined. BAR UK will expect to see a streamlining of the various immigration processes currently used.

  9.  The Home Office has yet to determine how e-Borders will be paid for. BAR UK does not recognise these costs as being those for airlines or its customers.

1 December 2005

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