Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) says the use of advance passenger processing (APP) for all international flights departing the country will move travellers through airports more quickly and improve the passenger experience while maintaining national security.
After a number of trials, DIBP said it had switched on its Outward APP program for all airlines and all flights out of Australia.
Under this system, passengers are pre-cleared for departure when checking in online, via an airport kiosk or at the counter, when their names and other personal information is checked against DIPB watchlists in real-time. There are about two million checks a month as part of Outbound APP.
Once cleared, passengers can use Smartgates to pass through passport control, rather than be processed by an Australian Border Force officer at a counter.
Airline staff can follow up cases of passengers not cleared for departure at checkin, whether through security concerns or other issues, with the Australian government before they reach passport control.
Assistant secretary at DIBP’s traveller branch, John Gibbon, said the move would improve passenger processing at Australia’s international airports.
“Outward APP delivers a faster and more seamless experience for travellers, while meeting our business needs to manage threats and ensure the integrity of Australia’s border,” Gibbon said in a statement.
DIPB is using iBorders, developed by technology provider SITA, to run its Outward APP system under a long-term contract. SITA has been working with the Australian government since the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and the Outward APP adds to Australia already pre-clearing all international travellers flying into the country.
SITA regional director for Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific Jay Youlten said Australia was one of the first countries to use iBorders to pre-clear departing passengers, while about 30 governments were using the technology for inbound pre-clearance.
Youlten said the iBorders software was developed at SITA’s centre of excellence unit based in Sydney, a secure area audited by not just the Australian government but also governments of other countries.
“Its primary purpose is to act as the communications and processing element between the airline system and the government,” Youlten told Australian Aviation in an interview.
“We don’t host any blacklists or any government data, what we are actually doing is providing a means to take the information from the airline system and we transact it with the government system via a secure mechanism.”
“That then reports back a board/no board result.”
SITA said full implementation of the Outward APP program “coincided with the commencement of the Foreign Fighters legislation amendments”.
Youlten said an efficient way of pre-clearing passengers ahead of arriving at passport control, such as that provided by iBorders, would help improve the flow of people through the airport.
“We are handling that at lightning speed so that the security and facilitation of the airport environment for the airline and the airport itself are being managed efficiently,” Youlten said.
“There is always a competing balance between making an airport more efficient but also preserving the security of the border and keeping the government’s right to understand who is coming in and going out forefront.”
SITA president for Asia Pacific Ilya Gutlin said: “Australia has long been recognized as a leader and innovator in the area of border management.”
“Working in sync with the airlines, Australia now runs advance, automatic checks on every passenger arriving or departing the country, making the journey smoother for authorized travellers while addressing issues with persons of interest.”