SITA First Provider to Receive US Government Approval to Transmit Passenger Data at Check-In

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has completed testing with SITA, the aviation IT specialist and provider of border management solutions to the air transport industry, for the provision of data to the agency’s new system for processing passenger manifest information. SITA is now the first IT provider to receive US government approval to transmit passenger data at check-in.

The Advance Passenger Information Quick Query (APIS AQQ) service will allow the DHS to take control of vetting passenger names against the government’s terrorist watch list, prior to departure of aircraft, and then automatically deliver authority to airlines to issue, or not issue, boarding passes as each passenger checks-in.

From February 19, 2008, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), requires that all airlines with international flights that depart from, over-fly, or fly to the United States submit passenger and crew manifest data (passport and travel document information) before the departure of the aircraft.

Airlines have the choice of submitting the data for the entire flight in batch at a minimum of 30 minutes prior to the securing of the aircraft doors, or using the new AQQ service. The AQQ service enables the airline to send manifest information to CBP as each passenger checks in and to receive an immediate response with a board/no-board instruction.

Using the AQQ service gives airlines greater flexibility by eliminating the operational challenge of creating a complete passenger and crew manifest for the flight 30 minutes prior to aircraft departure. It also shifts the responsibility of cross-checking manifest data against the terrorist watch list prior to departure of the aircraft from the airline to CBP. As this ruling affects more than 180 airlines and 150 million passenger movements, CBP’s AQQ service has the potential to reduce flight disruptions and improve passenger service.

AQQ is a form of interactive Advance Passenger Information (iAPI) which was first implemented by SITA for Australia in the late 1990s, followed by Bahrain, Kuwait and New Zealand. SITA is the only supplier offering an off-the shelf iAPI solution, called APP (Advance Passenger Processing) to governments and airlines worldwide. Over half the world’s airlines are APP-capable. And now, CBP has completed testing with SITA so airlines can use SITA’s technology to send passenger data interactively to the US government.

SITA has in fact, developed a community solution that allows airlines to transmit passenger information not only to the US Government but to any other government that chooses to implement a variant of iAPI. The SITA ‘industry hub’ presents a single interface to the airline and then provides the data processing necessary to interface to any government – saving the airline industry the expense and effort of developing their own individual solutions for each government.

Thomas Marten, Vice President Government and Security SITA, said: “Each airline could develop a direct interface to the US government. However, in the long run other governments will follow the US lead and develop their own iAPI system each having its own unique requirements and each needing to be supported by the airlines.

“Our solution is one for the airline industry as a whole which faces mounting costs in many areas. We believe that by using SITA’s interactive hub airlines will be able to meet with ease all existing iAPI requirements, and any new ones sent their way.”

“SITA’s testing with CBP is completed and we will now begin to work with airlines to get them ready to meet the new requirements,” he added.

In addition, SITA Departure Control Services users, which include 95 airlines and ground handlers that provide check-in services for over 250 different airlines worldwide, can now take advantage of the new AQQ service.

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