Future Borders: UAE's advanced passenger information system going live in Dubai

The UAE's Advanced Passenger Information system is going live at Dubai International Airport later this week, according to Leyla Hareb, the assistant director of strategy & international affairs at the GCAA. “This system has been developed in just two years. It has taken other countries ten years to implement,” she said
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Sharjah will be the second UAE airport to go live with the system. “That will happen by the summer,” Hareb said.
The conference was opened this morning by HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group. The conference has a line-up of 24 speakers from 12 countries, including representatives of ACI and IATA.
Fergus Wilson, the COO of Irish national carrier Aer Lingus, spoke about the benefits that his airline had received through Dublin and Shannon being able to operate a pre-clearance system with the US Customs and Border Service.
The airline saw a 20% growth in passengers taking the North American services and high favourable responses from travellers for their passenger experience.
The same system is being used in Abu Dhabi.
But Wilson also warned about the growth of API and the number of different requirements being put on airlines to provide information to the destination governments.
“It is important we get standardization,” he said. “We are geared up to the IATA and ICAO requirements. If we are to see more countries getting this then we need to be consistent,”
Over the years, more and more governments require that airlines transmit API or Passenger Name Record (PNR) data, too often in “non-standard and inefficient ways”. IATA has developed an API-PNR Toolkit in partnership with ICAO and the World Customs Organization (WCO).
As of now, 30 countries now require airlines to send API before the flight’s arrival. Another 32 countries are planning to introduce similar requirements in the near future, said IATA’s Michael Herrero.
API information usually consists of data found in the MRZ of passports and other travel documents (full name, date or birth, gender, passport number, country of citizenship, country of passport issuance), but Wilson’s concern is that some countries require information that cannot be machine-read.
IATA's aim is to ensure that all countries requiring API-type data harmonize their requirements with global standards and guidelines.
Access to PNR is required in six countries today and in the works in 30 more countries. PNR contain data provided by travelers at the time of booking, sometimes months before their flight, and are held in airlines’ reservation systems until the flight is open for check-in.
However, most legislations state that personal data such as contained in PNR should only be used for the purposes it was given, unless explicitly authorized by the data subject, should not be kept for an excessive amount of time and must only be seen by those that have a need to see it. IATA is keen to see a global solution to this growing issue of access to PNR.
Wilson said Smart applications are linked to API in Aer Lingus. API is collected once for the entire journey through a single collection point and data is maintained for the full itinerary.
Adel Al Redha, Emirates chief operations officer and senior vice president, said that the use of Smart technology allows a smooth transfer through the airport and helps the airline’s customers get good passenger experience.
“In Dubai there has been good cooperation between the government, the airport and the airline. Multiple stakeholders have been involved and the use of eGates for UAE nationals and residents has sped up the processes,” he said.
“We are privileged that in Dubai and the UAE we are all working with the same vision and mission which is to enhance passenger experience,” Al Redha said. “Air travel has undergone transformation. Gone are the days when people travelled only one or few times. These days some passengers travel multiple times during the same day. Also the numbers are rising exponentially.”
“In such times, process barriers lower the standards. One of the ways to enhance passenger experience is to share database of, for example, frequent flyers. Airlines can share it with authorities and we can have a scenario where using a single card the passenger can enter or exit. We must do that,” he said.
During the session, moderated by Arabian Aerospace editor Alan Peaford, the speakers discussed how API enhances seamless travel experience and the way air crafts in the future will change the face of travel.
Manuel Van Lijf, Director Product Innovation at Air France-KLM, said: “In near future, the airport processes will be passenger centric. Air travelers have more contact points and are also more connected. They expect timely and accurate information on all platforms, they expect us to recognize their needs and also be transparent. This means that different stakeholders- the airlines, airports and security agencies should communicate with each other.”
Time is of the essence.
By 2033, there will be 91 ‘Aviation Mega Cities’ in the world, accounting for 2.2 million daily long haul passengers traffic to, from and via these super hubs, according to Airbus.
In a presentation at the Future of Borders conference in Dubai today, Paul Moultrie, head of marketing at Airbus Middle East, said these ‘Aviation Mega Cities’ will account for 95 per cent of long-haul traffic in the world, which by 2020 will have a total population of 9.3 billion.
Moutrie said that there would be great connectivity between the 91 cities as well as development of feeder routes.
Airbus identified only 42 Aviation Mega Cities in 2013 with 0.8 million daily long-haul traffic and 90 per cent of long haul traffic on routes to, from and via these cities. The economic contribution of Aviation Mega Cities will increase to 35 per cent of the world GDP in 2033, up from 22 per cent recorded in 2013.
Moultrie said a survey of 10,000 people conducted by the European airplane maker to elicit their opinion about what they want from the future of flight suggested that they want the air transport “cheaper, greener and more fun”.
Through innovation, and out-of-the-box thinking, Airbus will continue to meet its eco-efficiency goals, and ensure that air travel continues to be one of the safest, and most eco-efficient, means of transportation, he said.
According to Moultrie every flight in the world could on average be around 13 minutes shorter. This would save around 9 million tonnes of excess fuel annually, which equates to over 28 million tonnes of avoidable CO2 emissions and a saving for passengers of over 500 million hours of excess flight time on board an aircraft


Pictured: Airlines panel at the Future Borders conference (L-R) Moderator, Arabian Aerospace editor-in-chief Alan Peaford; Airbus’ Paul Moultrie; Aer Lingus’ Fergus Wilson; KLM Air France’s Manuel van Lijf and Emirates Airline’s Adel Al Redha.