By Gboyega Oni
Around 319 million passengers per year will be affected by the enhanced border control prescribed by Regulation 458/2017 of the European Union, says the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
According to IATA, almost half of all passengers would be travelling through EU airports as the new systematic checks are increasing the processing times at border control by approximately 20 seconds per passenger.
To resolve the impasses already caused by the imposition of the new border control check regulation, IATA and the European associations Airlines for Europe (A4E), Airlines Council International (ACI) Europe, European Regional Airlines (ERA) Association and Airlines International Representation in Europe (AIRE) have written to the European Council of Ministers to express their concerns over the issue.
Rafael Schvartzman, IATA Regional Vice President, Europe noted that more resources are urgently needed to reduce delays, saying that they supported additional border checks provided it would improve security in Europe.
According to him, “We support additional border checks if governments believe this improves the security of Europe’s citizens. But we warned this needed more resources to prevent delays, and governments have failed to heed those warnings. The number of delayed flights due to border control issues is up 97% – this is totally unacceptable. The answer is for more border control officers to be deployed, and more automatic gates to be operational.”
In the letter to the European Council of Ministers, the aviation concerned bodies urged member states to take the necessary measures in order to minimize the inconvenience caused to EU citizens and to preserve connectivity at EU hub airports.
According to the letter, “The number of delayed flights due to border control issues increased by 97% between April and June 2017 (compared to 2016), after the regulation entered into force. Furthermore, in June 2017, the contribution to the average delay time per delayed flight, due to border control issues, increased by 30%1 compared to 2016. With the traffic increase due to the holiday season, and in the absence of appropriate measures put in place by Member States, the implementation of enhanced border controls for EU citizens has caused havoc at a number of EU hub airports. This has been widely echoed and documented in European media.
“Based on our current observations, the new systematic checks are increasing the processing times at border control by approximately 20 seconds per passenger. This means that on average one extra hour is necessary to process every single flight. In some cases, these delays have caused up to 5% of passengers per day to miss their connecting flights. In Paris Orly, the new measures have increased the waiting times at border control by up to an hour during around 40% of the days, in the previous months.”
IATA noted that airlines and airports are doing their utmost to minimize the inconvenience to passengers.
However, European Union member states were advise to adopt the following measures: In accordance with Article 15 of the Schengen Border Code, all Member States shall deploy the necessary number of border officers and consider further deployment of automated border control gates, including at secondary airports where non-Schengen traffic is significant.
Member States, like Spain and France, which are collecting Advance Passenger Information (API), shall make use of the provisions set out in Article 8 paragraph 2e of Regulation EU 458/2017, which were specifically added to allow for more efficient checks. The advance verification on the basis of API data could also speed up controls for EU passengers on inbound flights.
By Gboyega Oni