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Airlines fined for boarding unauthorised passengers

Media Release

25 October 2012

Two airlines have been prosecuted for allowing passengers to fly to New Zealand without getting prior approval from Immigration New Zealand (INZ).

At Manukau District Court LAN Airlines was convicted and fined a total of $9,000 in respect of two offences and Cathay Pacific Airways was convicted of a single offence and fined $5,250.  All of the offences were for failing to comply with the airlines’ obligations under the Immigration Act 2009.

Passenger clearance for New Zealand  is obtained through a system known as Advance Passenger Processing (APP) and a message is automatically generated advising airlines whether a passenger is allowed to board or not.

The court heard that in the case of LAN Airlines a check in attendant at Santiago airport entered an expired passport number for a Brazilian national in December last year after being directed by APP not to board the passenger when his current passport details were entered. The passenger subsequently flew to Auckland.

Cathay Pacific did not provide any information on a South African national before allowing him to travel to Auckland from South Africa via Hong Kong in January 2012.

In both cases the passengers were refused entry at the border and returned home.

INZ General Manager Peter Elms says airlines have a responsibility to meet their obligations under the Immigration Act to maintain the integrity of New Zealand’s immigration system and border security.

“Airlines play a crucial role in helping keep our border secure and Immigration New Zealand takes this type of offending very seriously,” Mr Elms says.

ENDS