News: US entry tightened
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Saturday 11 February 2006
One extra hurdle for transatlantic travellers is to be introduced over the coming month. Airlines already supply the US authorities with basic details on all westbound travellers through the Advance Passenger Information system. Data including the names and dates of birth of everyone on board each America-bound flight are transmitted to US Customs and Border Protection immediately after departure.
By 7 March, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and other airlines will supply two further pieces of information from each non-American traveller: the country of residence, and the address of the first night's accommodation. It is already obligatory to supply this information on the green or white immigration form that each passenger completes on the plane. But travellers will not be given a boarding pass until they have supplied the necessary data. With BA alone carrying 10,000 transatlantic passengers every day there have been fears that flights could be delayed while the extra information is collected. So BA has launched a campaign to try to ensure that all travellers' data has been recorded before they get to the airport - by phone, online or through agents. But from the passenger's point of view there is no obligation to supply the information until check-in. When BA introduces the new system at Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester on 7 March, the airline will employ staff to ask passengers to have the details ready before they reach the desk.
Concerns have been expressed by prospective visitors who are joining a cruise, transiting at an American airport en route to Latin America or the South Pacific, or taking a fly-drive holiday in which they do not know where they will be staying on the first night. The latest US Customs and Border Protection view is that explaining the circumstances should be sufficient.
AMERICAN travellers have been banned by their government from travelling aboard a Peruvian airline, Aero Continente. The State Department has issued a warning that: "It is illegal for any person within the United States, as well as US citizens, nationals, and resident aliens elsewhere, to fly on Aero Continente".
The airline flies mainly domestically in Peru, and the most likely time that British visitors would encounter it is on the link between Lima and Cuzco.
The travel ban has not been imposed because of fears about safety. It is because the airline is said to be a vehicle for money-laundering: "A financial façade controlled by the notorious Peruvian drug kingpin, Fernando Zevallos Gonzales", is how the US Treasury describes the airline.
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