Interpol chief calls for airline action on stolen passports

AirfreightThe head of Interpol has called for airlines to step up checks on passengers to make sure stolen documents are not used to board planes.

There have been very recent calls for a tightening of procedures in the wake of the revelation that two men boarded missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 using false passports. While the men are not believed to have been linked to the disappearance of the airliner, the case drew attention to the fact that less than 10 of the 190 countries who are members of Interpol routinely screen travel documents using the agency's Stolen/Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database.

Earlier this month, AirAsia became the first airline to commit to verifying travel documents using the STLD database, which is a step in the right direction but must be followed by other carriers, according to Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble.

The involvement of airlines is critical because - as exposed by the Flight 370 incident - government checks alone are insufficient, even if they were applied across the broad.

"These passengers used valid passports to enter Malaysia, but used stolen passports to board MH370," points out Noble in a recently-published open letter.

"Criminals can simply use valid passports to cross borders and then continue their journey using stolen passports to board planes without any real concern that they will be caught," he goes on.

Last year, Interpol introduced a programme known as i-Checkit that gives airlines the opportunity to screen passport numbers against the SLTD database to see if they are stolen and thus invalid in less than a second.

Aside from the benefits in terms of passenger safety, use of the system helps airlines avoid the cost of having to return passengers who used stolen passports to board planes, but had their passport rejected at the destination country, as well as potential fines for security lapses.

" Through air carriers and governments working together, I remain confident that one day soon more and more passengers will be able to say ‘everything has been done to ensure my safety and prevent a terrorist or wanted criminal from boarding my international flight’," writes Noble.

More than 100,000 people were intercepted trying to cross borders illegally into the EU last year, according to figures from European border agency Frontex, and almost 10,000 did so with falsified or stolen travel documents.

Related articles:

     Want our news sent directly to your inbox?

Yes please 2


Home  |  About us  |  Contact us  |  Advertise  |  Links  |  Partners  |  Privacy Policy  |   |  RSS feed   |  back to top