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Press Release No.: 19

Date: 22 April 2008

Washington - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) today condemned the new U.S. Government proposal that airlines and their employees collect biometric information from all non-U.S. citizens when departing the U.S. in the U.S. Exit Plan. The U.S. Government plan would require airlines to invest billions in new equipment and the staff to operate it.

“Border protection and immigration are government responsibilities.  Airline counter staff are not a substitute for trained border patrol officers. And outsourcing exit formalities to airlines is not a responsible approach,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
 
“Airlines are committed to working with governments to help facilitate efficient immigration and border protection. We need solutions that are efficient, effective and convenient. Today’s proposal does not meet any of these criteria,” said Bisignani.

“Governments need to focus on modern solutions. Airlines spent the last four years using technology to respond to travellers’ desire for self-service. Our Simplifying the Business programme is moving passenger check-in online or to kiosks. Sending passengers back into counter queues is a big step backward,” said Bisignani.

“The solution lies within the Department of Homeland Security itself. The Transportation Security Administration is already working on a security check-point of the future. Why is Customs and Border Protection not working with its sister agency to combine the exit process into an automated solution that is both convenient and effective?” said Bisignani. 

Notes for Editors:

  • IATA represents some 240 airlines comprising 94% of scheduled international traffic
  • Initial modelling of the proposed procedures shows an additional one-minute, per passenger check-in delay to comply with the new procedures.
  • About 33 million international passengers leaving US airports would have to submit biometric information.
  • The Simplifying the Business project was first launched in 2004 and leverages technology, automates and streamlines the travel process to reduce complexity and cost. 

For more information, please contact: corpcomms@iata.org

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