14th Session of the WCO/IATA/ICAO API-PNR Contact Committee

28 October 2020

On 20-21 October 2020, the 14th annual World Customs Organization (WCO) - International Air Transportation Agency (IATA) – International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Advance Passenger Information (API) / Passenger Name Record (PNR) Contact Committee took place virtually due to ongoing concerns with the covid-19 global pandemic. 

The Contact Committee Meeting brought together more than 80 delegates and was chaired by Ms. Christina Bell from the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and vice-chaired by Mr. Saud Algharir from Saudi Customs.

Mr. Pranab Kumar Das, the Director of Compliance and Facilitation, WCO, opened the Meeting and welcomed all delegates, particularly IATA and ICAO. Director Das acknowledged the air passenger transport industry has been one of the sectors that has been most severely impacted by the pandemic.

Given the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the discussion during the Meeting centered on how WCO Members are using API/PNR data to combat the spread of the virus using measures like contact tracing and contactless passenger processing systems, including e-gates. The Contact Committee noted the need to address the accuracy of API/PNR data to enhance the effectiveness of contact tracing.

The Contact Committee discussed a proposed initiative on Bio-Secure Borders that seeks to enhance the resilience of borders against the spread of infectious diseases by using API/PNR data and other related datasets in all modes of transport. The Contact Committee welcomed the further development of the initiative, particularly in the area of air passenger transport.  At the request of the Contact Committee, the WCO Secretariat will write to Members and international and private sector partners to gather those interested in progressing the initiative.

The Contact Committee also discussed the need to have a comprehensive update to the API Guidelines taking into account new developments.

ICAO informed the meeting of the endorsement of the 28th update of Annex 9 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, which was focused on Standards and Recommended Practices (SARP) on PNR and acknowledged the critical role of Customs in implementing a PNR programme. Therefore, Customs administrations were invited to actively participate in implementing the programme in a national passenger single window.

IATA informed the Contact Committee of the importance of adhering to global standards on the requirements of API/PNR Data to ensure the efficiency of the transmission of the data and to enhance data accuracy. The Delegate also updated the Contact Committee on the outcomes of the Meeting of the IATA’s PNRGOV and PAXLST Working Groups.

In addition, Customs administrations took the opportunity to continue ongoing discussions on the future direction of WCO cruise ship related passenger control work including other modes of transport. This included the establishment of a dedicated working group to tackle the ongoing issues impacting Customs in this all transport sectors and with the first priority being the establishment of a global standard for API/PNR data standard for cruise ships and a related compendium as a precursor to work in other transport sectors (rail/road/land).

Ms. Christina Bell from the United States was re-elected as Chair and Mr. James Bob Barungi from Uganda was elected as Vice-Chair.

In closing, the Chairperson Ms. Christina Bell shared these thoughts; “This is a notable time of crisis that has severely impacted commercial aviation and all other modes of travel, all stakeholders in the Contact Committee and Customs communities. It has been my honor to Chair such an important and productive meeting with active participation from members and stakeholders and robust support from the Vice Chair, Mr. Saud Algharir, and the Secretariat. I look forward to continuing the ambitious program of work for the next year.”