8. Memorandum submitted by the British
Air Transport Association (BATA)
1. BATA welcomes the opportunity to submit
evidence to the Home Affairs Committee's inquiry into Immigration
Control. BATA represents UK-registered airlines, covering the
scheduled, charter and freight sectors. Our members produce 90%
of UK airline output.
2. The Committee seeks evidence on a wide
range of issues but our evidence relates only to e-Borders, including
3. We support the objectives of the e-Borders
project, but have concerns about the costs and some of the practicalities.
4. The benefits of e-Borders lie almost
exclusively with the Government whilst much of the cost will fall
on the airlines. Not only will airlines have to develop systems
and install equipment but there will be on-going running costs.
Check-in transaction times will increase. We believe that the
costs to the industry should be met by government.
5. We have doubts about the practicalities
of some aspects of the Authority to Carry (ATC) scheme. It will
have to be provided at thousands of check-in desks and kiosks
around the world. We do not think that the help desk facility
for passengers denied ATC will be able to deal with all queries
especially if the passenger does not speak English.
6. Not all airlines will be able to supply
the Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record
(PNR) data required. Charter airlines in particular, generally
do not hold passenger information in advance of check-in. Not
all UK airports are currently capable of collecting and transmitting
7. We urge the Government to promote and
use international standards for the content, format and timing
of data transmission.
8. We support the "single window"
concept and urge that it implemented as soon as possible.
9. Management of the border is a fundamental
responsibility of the State and should remain so no matter where
the border management activity takes place. We support the objectives
of the e-Borders project to improve border security. We recognise
the advantages of "exporting the border" so that passengers
who would not be allowed to enter the UK are prevented from flying
in the first place. We have concerns about the practicalities
and costs of implementation.
10. Airlines will incur costs in developing,
setting up and running systems to meet e-Borders requirements.
e-Borders will extend check-in transaction times for passengers
and will add to operating costs. The stated objectives are to
improve areas of national security and to counter organised crime,
illegal immigration and the like and the overwhelming benefits,
more than £1.4 billion over 15 years according to the Preliminary
Regulatory Impact Assessment (PRIA), accrue to the Government.
In contrast, the tangible benefits to airlines, if any, will be
very small. They relate mainly to the potential reduction in fines
for carrying inadequately documented passengers and reductions
in detention and repatriation costs. However there is no guarantee
that, if the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) grant
Authority to Carry (ATC), the passenger will be permitted to enter
the UK, and the airline will still have to pay removal costs and
any detention costs. The savings to airlines are likely to be
less than £1 million per year and will be far outweighed
by the running costs of the scheme.
11. Currently, the provision of border control
is paid for by the taxpayer, the move to e-Borders would appear
to move the payment for provision to the airlines, shippers, ports,
or even the passengermany of whom have already contributed
through their taxes. We therefore contend that the costs to the
industry should be met by the Government.
12. If the data required is extended to
include biometrics, the quantity of data collected could increase
considerably and transmission costs could rise. Check-in transaction
times would increase still further.
13. The PRIA states that "work is underway
to establish the practicality of charging passengers a small fee
to cover costs". We would strongly oppose such a charge.
UK passengers already pay Air Passenger Duty (APD), unlike other
transport modes, and this would further undermine the competitiveness
of the UK airline industry.
14. e-Borders includes an ATC scheme which
will screen passengers before they board. However we have doubts
about the practicalities of some aspects of the scheme.
15. In order that a fast response can be
given at check-in, extra functionality will have to be provided
at thousands of check-in desks and kiosks around the world used
by hundreds of different airlines. This will be a considerable
challenge to implement and, depending on the method chosen, it
could be very costly. Not all European airports, let alone some
of the more remote foreign airports, have modern IT systems and
infrastructure. Some airports and some airlines still use paper-based
systems for check-in.
16. In order to deal with queries when a
passenger is refused ATC, it is proposed that a 24 hour/seven
days per week telephone help line is set up. We doubt that this
will be able to deal with all queries especially if the passenger
does not speak English. When a passenger has been wrongly refused
ATC, ie a false positive, unless the matter is cleared up quickly
the passenger will miss their flight.
17. It is essential that the e-Borders processes
allow for the emerging internet home check-in procedures and self
check-in at airports. Airlines are investing heavily in these
systems which are preferred by many passengers and ease congestion
at airports. The benefits will be negated if passengers have to
report to a manned desk at the airport.
18. Procedures will have to be established
to ensure that check-in can continue when the ATC system is not
19. The ATC scheme raises some liability
issues. If ATC is granted and the passenger is subsequently refused
entry when reaching the UK, then the airline should be immune
from the consequences, including any detention or repatriation
20. If a passenger has been wrongly refused
ATC, and has missed their flight then it should be the Government
that is liable for the costs of providing alternative travel arrangements,
accommodation and denied boarding compensation.
21. e-Borders imposes a requirement on airlines
to provide Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name
Record (PNR) data. However, only PNR data that is gathered routinely
for airlines' own commercial purposes has to be provided and it
should be noted that in some cases very little is known by the
airline. Charter airlines, for example, generally do not hold
passenger information in advance of check-in. It is the travel
agents who have this information and it is not normally passed
on to the airline. Most charter airlines do not have a reservations
22. It should be noted that, out of the
22 main UK airports, 13 would be unable to collect and transmit
API data now.
23. The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality
Bill which underpins the e-Borders project, permits the Secretary
of State to determine the format and timing of data transmission.
Many other countries are also requesting API and implementing
ATC schemes. We urge the Government to use international standards
where they exist, such as those being developed by ICAO, and to
press for international standards where they do not yet exist.
By doing so not only will costs be reduced but implementation
will be quicker.
24. The e-Borders project includes the concept
of a "single window" whereby all the data required is
channelled to a single address and then distributed by IND to
all the border agencies. This will be much simpler for airlines
than the current situation where data is sent separately to each
25. We strongly support the single window
concept but this should apply not just to the three principle
border agencies, but also to all other government departments
and agencies which may require passenger information, such as
DEFRA and Port Health Authorities. Following the events in London
on 7 July 2005, airlines have been inundated with requests for
information which is diverting resources from being able to work
with the Home Office on e-Borders and Project Semaphore. We would
like to see the single window concept implemented as soon as possible.
This would be beneficial to the border agencies and airlines.
2 December 2005