Why are we not told who was trying to get in?
An airline has been fined nearly $12,000 for allowing a banned passenger to board a flight to New Zealand.
Latam Airlines was fined and convicted for boarding the passenger, a Syrian national, in 2015 despite being told by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) not to do so.
The airline, formerly called Lan Chile, was ordered to pay a total of $11,700 plus court costs for failing to comply with the airline’s obligations under the Immigration Act 2009.
INZ said the error came from the Latam Airlines check-in agent at Santiago airport in Chile, who failed to adhere to INZ advice after incorrectly entering the passenger’s nationality into the system.
The passenger 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 check-in agent incorrectly entered the passenger’s nationality as Brazilian in INZ’s Advance Passenger Processing (APP) system and as a result it returned a “Board with outward ticket” directive.
The APP system advises airlines whether a passenger is allowed to board or not.
“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 border manager, Senta Jehle, said on Thursday.
The passenger was removed from New Zealand on the day he arrived in November 2015.
Jehle said this was the third time the airline had 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,” Jehle said.
“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.”
Latam Airlines were convicted at the Manukau District Court on Thursday morning.
In 2016, Latam Airlines was prosecuted for allowing a Brazilian passenger – who had previously been refused entry to New Zealand – to fly back into the country.
It was found that an employee of the South American airline deliberately misspelled the passenger’s name five times to get a name the system wouldn’t recognise, in order to let him illegally enter New Zealand.
The airline was fined $9000 after pleading guilty to failing to comply with the airline’s obligations under the Immigration Act 2009. The maximum sentence is a fine of $50,000.