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Airline fined over boarding unauthorised passenger Thursday, 16 November 2017

An airline has been prosecuted for allowing a passenger to board a flight to New Zealand - despite being told by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) not to do so.

At Manukau District Court today LATAM Airlines - formerly Lan Chile - was convicted and fined a total of $11,700 plus court costs for failing to comply with the airline’s obligations under the Immigration Act 2009. The maximum sentence is a fine of $50,000.

Approval for an airline to bring a passenger to New Zealand is obtained through INZ’s Advance Passenger Processing (APP) system, which advises airlines whether a passenger is allowed to board or not. APP checks are an invaluable tool in confirming whether a passenger or crew member has the authority to travel to New Zealand and enhances INZ’s ability to target security concerns.

The passenger in question was a Syrian national who was using a passport for foreigners issued by the government of Brazil that noted he was a Syrian citizen. The LATAM Airlines check-in agent at Santiago airport incorrectly entered the passenger’s nationality as Brazilian in the APP system and as a result it returned a “Board with outward ticket” directive. Even though the agent was subsequently informed by telephone and email from INZ not to allow the passenger to board he was allowed to do so.

INZ’s National Manager, Border, Senta Jehle, says this is the third time the airline has been prosecuted for not meeting its requirements under the Immigration Act. LATAM Airlines was also issued with 590 infringement notices between July 2012 and May 2017 for breaching the Immigration Act, including seven in relation to failing to comply with a do not board directive.

“INZ takes this type of offending very seriously as airlines have a vital role to play in maintaining the integrity of New Zealand’s immigration system and keeping the border secure,” Ms Jehle says. “In this case the airline completely ignored the instruction from INZ not to board the passenger and we were left with no alternative but to take prosecution action.”

The passenger was removed from New Zealand on the day he arrived in November 2015.


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