EU Border Controls: Commission‘s proposal is not practical

Safety in the air takes a top priority for TUI. This also applies to the fight against crime. The EU Commission would like to impose more stringent border controls on passengers who do not require a visa. This should be implemented by the airlines carrying the passengers. This is not only highly controversial for consumers and data protection supporters, but also represents considerable problems for the affected airlines and tour operators.

Registration system: Proposal not workable

Freedom to travel is a great asset. In order to preserve it without any restrictions within the Schengen area and to guarantee safety, effective controls at the EU‘s external borders are necessary, according to the Commission. For this reason, in November 2016, it presented a proposal for the so-called European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). The aim is to check the security and entry status of non-visa-bound travellers in the Schengen area before their arrival. On arrival by air, this would mean a comparison, among other things, with Europol-data, the fingerprint file EURODAC or Visa Information Systems. However, the draft Commission to be welcomed in its objectives is set out in Article 39. A requirement not practicable for the passengers and the airlines. Airlines should be obliged to collect and check passenger data online before boarding, either at the check-in or directly at the boarding gate. This is far removed from travel practice at the airports:

  • Online check: The check-in computers of the airlines have no access to the Internet. For a good reason: the airline computers at the check-in or boarding gate are part of a strictly protected internal network.
  • Mobile Check-in: Many passengers already check-in for a flight using their own computer or mobile phone.
  • Check-in time: Companies do everything to make the check-in or the boarding process as fast and customer-friendly as possible. The checking of an individual passenger in the way via the Internet sought by the Commission would, however, probably take 90 seconds.

For a Boeing 787 Dreamliner with 300 passengers that would mean about 7. 5 hours – not acceptable to either the passengers or the airlines.

Making use of existing data standards

The solution to the problem is very close: in international air transport passenger data is already transferred with the ICAO and IATA-accepted encrypted protocol iAPI. The advantage: there are secure interfaces to the databases of the public authorities. The USA and Australia already use this for ETIAS-compliant systems: Passing through the passport provides the desired information within four seconds. Airlines like those in the TUI Group are successfully using this method.

And travellers retain their comfort and data sovereignty.