AirAsia and the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) announced today that the Malaysian-based low-cost carrier will be the first airline in the world to implement the I-Checkit system as part of ongoing efforts to enhance international travel security .
In a statement, released by Interpol today, the airline said the system would screen the passports of all its prospective passengers against the world police body’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database.
AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes, said: “AirAsia is extremely pleased to be the first airline globally to collaborate with Interpol to implement I-Checkit. The partnership we have created will result in improved passenger security and will support our desire to offer low fares, but with the added assurance that this system and partnership provides.”
Once implemented later this month, the pilot project will see the airline integrating the I-Checkit with their own check-in systems during the passenger check-in phase across its entire international network, allowing passenger passport numbers to be instantly compared against Interpol’s SLTD database, which contains more than 40 million records from 167 countries.
The I-Checkit system will be deployed across all of AirAsia’s international operations, covering a network of 100 airports across Asia and 600 international flights per day to more than 20 countries worldwide.
In the event of a positive match registered via I-Checkit, alerts for further verification will also be sent to Interpol’s National Central Bureau of the country that owns the travel document data, and to Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France, the statement said.
"Interpol is very proud to be piloting I-Checkit with AirAsia. This will raise the bar across the industry for passenger safety and security by preventing individuals using stolen or lost passports from boarding international flights,” Interpol secretary general Ronald K. Noble said during his visit to AirAsia operations at the klia2 terminal today.
"AirAsia has established the new standard for airline security by screening the passports of all international passengers against Interpol’s database.
"After today, airlines will no longer have to depend solely on the immigration authorities to screen passports to keep passengers safe from terrorists and other criminals who use stolen passports to board flights. Like AirAsia, they will be able to do it themselves as well," he added.
Currently, fewer than 10 countries systematically screen passenger passports against Interpol's SLTD database, with approximately four out of every 10 passports on international flights not screened against Interpol’s database.
"I am particularly pleased that Malaysia’s Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, has committed Interpol’s National Central Bureau in Kuala Lumpur to support this Interpol-AirAsia initiative.
"Without the support of Interpol offices in countries where passengers using stolen passports are identified, this initiative would not be possible," said Noble, adding that it takes less than 0.5 seconds to query Interpol’s database once a passport is scanned.
Meanwhile, Interpol and Malaysia’s Department of Immigration have completed the successful testing of the screening of Interpol’s SLTD database by immigration officials at the border.
Systematic screening of the passports of visitors will begin next month.
The move by the immigration department and the IGP contradicts Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi contention in March that Malaysia could not implement the system to verify passports with Interpol's database as it was "too time consuming for immigration officers and caused airport delays".
The issue came to the fore following the discovery that two Iranian passengers on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared on March 8, had checked in using stolen passports, one which had belonged to an Italian and the other to an Austrian. The two Europeans had both reported their passports stolen in Thailand a few years ago. – May 13, 2014.