The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has expressed concerns over the Malaysian government’s plans to introduce a new charge on passengers to recover the costs of a new Advance Passenger Information (API) program called the Advance Passenger Screening System (APSS).

Introducing an API charge on passengers will have a negative impact on Malaysia’s economy. It will increase the cost of travel to Malaysia, which would have a dampening effect on travel demand. This will hurt the economy and jobs supported by aviation,” said Conrad Clifford, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Asia-Pacific.

In a study conducted by IATA’s Economics team, it is estimated that a US$2 charge for each return flight will reduce the GDP contribution by US$45 million and the number of jobs supported by aviation by 1,400. If the charge were to be US$16, the economic impact would be US$ 362 million and 11,000 jobs.

“Security is a state responsibility and charges associated with it should be borne by the state. Even the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has explicitly stated that costs related to intelligence gathering should not be recovered through a charge. Many states have implemented API without introducing a charge. As a member of the ICAO Council, I urge Malaysia to follow suit and to continue build on the positive steps taken in recent years,” said Clifford.

A new ICAO standard requires states to introduce API programs in 2018. Some 65 countries, including nine in the Asia-Pacific region, have introduced an API program. Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Vietnam are among the states that have introduced an API without a charge on passengers.