Many stakeholders often mistakenly take IATA's position to be against passenger data sharing initiative. On the contrary, IATA supports this initiative providing it's planned with sufficient consultation and coordination with the airline representatives, in full compliance with international technical standards (i.e. ICAO & WCO), and is in line with ICAO charging principles, such as "cost-relatedness principle" that says airlines should not be charged for any costs related to more general security functions performed by states such as general policing, intelligence gathering, and national security.
Airlines have already invested significant resources to format and transmit passenger data to border control authorities according to the international technical standards. The receiving and processing of this data should be funded by states and not by airlines or passengers.
Unfortunately, many API/PNR implementations out there today were not done with sufficient consultancy or full compliance with the international standards. This has added unnecessary cost burdens to the aviation industry, and caused technical issues that can hinder the smooth implementation, and in some cases even suspend the implementation.
In addition to the financial cost and potential issues from technical standards, states should be aware of the regulatory requirements related to the PNR data submission by the airlines. For example, the European regulations include Data Protection Law preventing European Carriers from submitting PNR information to 3rd parties. It's essential for MENA states to be mindful of the airlines legal and regulatory obligations before imposing PNR requirements on them.
Following UN Security Council resolution 2178/2014, many states in MENA have expressed interest in implementing the API requirement. As a result IATA has put the states awareness of API/PNR initiative standards and best practices on the top of its priorities list in MENA. In May 03rd-04th this year, IATA in collaboration with the UN, held a workshop in the Dead Sea, Jordan, to raise awareness and building capacity on Advance Passenger Information. In addition, IATA is planning to hold a dedicated API/PNR regional workshop in Lebanon, Beirut, from 08th – 10th November, 2016 to raise the awareness of this important initiative amongst states and other stake holders.
Finally, we leave our readers with one key ASK; if you're aware of any state with an initial plan or an expressed interest in API/PNR implementation, please contact IATA office nearest to you, so we can help supporting it's smooth and successful implementation in compliance with the existing standards and best practices.