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Following the EU Regulation, how can we make waiting times at airports shorter?

[Essen, 11 September 2017] In an open letter to the EU Council of Ministers*, the international air transport associations IATA, A4E, AIRE, ERA and ACI Europe have expressed their concerns about the “chaotic implementation of Regulation EU 458/2017”. The authors of the document state that the increased checks specified by the Regulation in relation to external borders of the Schengen area, have resulted in long waiting times for passengers. Among other aspects, their recommendations to the EU member states for countermeasures include using Advanced Passenger Information (API) data more efficiently, as well as considering increased use of automated border control systems. Frank Steffens, Principal at secunet Security Networks AG, commented on this as follows:

“In the current situation, the border police forces are doing very good work, and taking every possible step to ease the situation. Advanced technology is helping them to do this: in particular, reading and checking the chips contained in the passports represents a huge win in terms of security, with moderate time needed for checking.

As requested by the air transport associations, expanding the automated border control systems as well as making greater use of Advance Passenger Information (API) data would be recommended to achieve further improvement. There are also other ways to optimise checking processes, and to use the available personnel to best effect: database queries in background systems should be enhanced with respect to the response speed and reduction in the number of irrelevant hits. Automated kiosk systems can be used to record identification and biometric data in advance. In principle, rather than independent, self-implemented solutions, proven products should be used that are modular in structure and therefore easier to expand. Moreover, products of this type are mostly state-of-the-art.

The next major challenge is already in view: the EU-wide entry/exit system planned for 2020, as part of the Smart Borders programme, will once again significantly increase requirements on border control processes. It’s important that member states engage with this topic at an early stage, as, in my experience, intense preparation is always needed when new procedures are introduced at the border; this preparation may take the form of pilot projects, for example. We have seen this in many examples from the past, such as the introduction of the electronic passport, the visa information system, and automated border control."

*) IATA et al., August 24, 2017: Open letter to the EU Council of Ministers.