Immigration Bill

Written evidence from Air Transat (IB 39)


The present is Air Transat’s brief outlining our comments regarding the proposed amendments to the Immigration Bill (hereafter the "Bill") currently being considered by Parliament.


Air Transat is Canada's second largest operator of international passenger air services.  A wholly-owned subsidiary of Transat A.T. , the world's sixth largest integrated holiday-travel company and tourism services provider by annual gross revenue ($3.7 billion CDN), we have operated year-round scheduled air services from several major Canadian gateways to numerous destinations in the United Kingdom (including London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow) for 20 years. Transat A.T. also owns Canadian Affair , a UK-based travel distributor that acts as general sales agent for Air Transat in offering affordable air travel to Canada to British consumers.


The focus of our input will be on the requirements stipulated per Article 58, as well as Part 6 of Schedule 7 of the Bill concerning embarkation checks. We are mindful that the concept of embarkation checks has broad political support in the UK and is considered an integral element of efforts to ensure optimal boarder security and control. Air Transat has no issue in this regard. Our problem is with the rather broad language employed to this end in the above-mentioned text of the Bill concerning potential directions to air carriers issued in the context thereof.

In brief, we believe that the proposed ability of the Secretary of State to issue directions to air or port operators "…to make arrangements for designated persons to exercise a specified function or a function of a specified description, in relation to persons of a specified description…" is far too ambiguous and lacking in basic specificity. It does not detail with reasonable clarity what may eventually be expected from operators in this respect, and it may not properly delimit the authority of the administration to require only measures of proportionate impact regarding the above-mentioned public interest objective.

While we fully understand that legislation is normally designed to provide a broader framework in virtue of which governments of the day may adopt and implement more prescriptive regulations, we would nevertheless suggest for your consideration that language be used that better circumscribes available legislative authority in this case, and which respects the following parameters and enables the achievement the following objectives:

· Builds on (as opposed to replaces) the current e-borders program of advance passenger information and reservation record access currently being provided by air carriers to the UK’s border control authorities;

· Recognizes that air carriers already providing high quality information on a consistent basis per the above not be penalized by more onerous operational and/or administrative requirements;

· Limits authority to only enable "designated" airline staff to screen/verify travel documentation and possibly scan / retain such documents;

· Avoids imposing requirements on "designated" staff to actively intervene or detain persons based on documentation presented, functions that are clearly the purview of border control and / or law enforcement officers;

· Considers the operating capabilities and models of the wide variety of air carriers (UK and international) serving the UK to ensure that any requirements imposed on an airline in this respect are not disproportionately burdensome as a result;

· Harmonizes with evolving trends in global aviation and border control security, including the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) so-called Checkpoint of the Future .

November 2013

Prepared 20th November 2013