Virgin Atlantic Airways today confirmed that it has been chosen as the long-haul airline to trial a new pre-entry screening system to identify potential immigration and security risks before they travel to the UK.
The technology consists of a document reader that instantly checks passports and other documents against online law enforcement databases. It can detect expired travel documents and certain irregularities within the documents themselves which may suggest forgery or counterfeiting.
The project is collaboration between Virgin Atlantic, short-haul carrier easyJet, the Home Office and law enforcement agencies. The Virgin Atlantic trial began at Heathrow and Miami International Airport on 28 April and it will last for three months.
The system works by scanning passengers` passports with a computerised document reader, which will either authenticate the travel document or alert the airline to possible forgery or tampering. The document reader also links to law enforcement and immigration databases to cross check against their records. Any matches against the database are dealt with by the law enforcement agency concerned.
Commenting on the announcement, Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic, said:
“We are delighted to confirm that Virgin Atlantic is the long-haul carrier participating in this important trial.
“Virgin Atlantic is always keen to become involved with any innovative new products or technologies that may be able to enhance customer service and security. The safety and security of our passengers and crew is of paramount importance.”
Home Office Minister Beverley Hughes said:
“This trial is the first step in a long-term programme to harness the latest technology to modernise and strengthen our border controls, creating a border security system fit for the 21st century. It is vital that we work in partnership with industry and I am grateful for the support of Virgin Atlantic and easyJet in this trial.”