US embassy cable - 02AMMAN2980

ROYAL JORDANIAN PROBLEMS WITH AIRLINE PASSENGER INFORMATION SYSTEM

Identifier: 02AMMAN2980
Wikileaks: View 02AMMAN2980 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Amman
Created: 2002-06-06 11:20:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: EAIR JO
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 AMMAN 002980 
 
SIPDIS 
 
FOR EB/TRA/OTP - DEBORAH ELLIOTT 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAIR, JO 
SUBJECT: ROYAL JORDANIAN PROBLEMS WITH AIRLINE PASSENGER 
INFORMATION SYSTEM 
 
REF: STATE 50622 
 
This is an action request. 
 
1.  Ambassador Gnehm received the following letter from Samer 
Majali, CEO of Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) regarding the 
technical problems RJ faces in meeting the standards set by 
the Airline Passenger Information System (APIS).  Post will 
reply to Majali drawing on the points in reftel, but would 
also appreciate any updated guidance from Washington on this 
issue.  We would also appreciate specific guidance regarding 
RJ  -- which, we understand, has incurred considerable fines 
to date under the system.  In our judgment, the technical 
problems RJ faces described in the letter are genuine.  We 
hope they can be worked out in a timely fashion and stand 
ready to assist if possible.  Jordan has demonstrated its 
willingness and efforts to comply with enhanced U.S. and ICAO 
aviation security measures since September 11, doing its 
utmost to meet and in many cases exceed requirements. 
 
2.  Begin text of letter. 
 
His Excellency Ambassador Edward Gnehm 
The United States Embassy 
Amman 
Jordan 
 
Your Excellency Ambassador Gnehm: 
 
In the aftermath of September 11 and the devastating effects 
it had on the airline industry, we at Royal Jordanian 
embarked, together with the local authorities on a complete 
review of our security procedures and passenger screening to 
ensure the safety of our passengers and aircraft. 
Fortunately, most, if not all our set procedures were in line 
with the new guideline set forth by the Civil Aviation and 
Security Departments in the US and Europe, and in many cases 
they were more stringent. 
 
As you are aware Your Excellency, we have implemented the 
Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) system 
immediately after September 2001, and all efforts are exerted 
to ensure a high level of accuracy.  Since we are using 
Shannon INS facilities, we were able to further screen the 
passengers before they set foot on US soil, thus preempting 
any possible discrepancy.  Now and since we will commence our 
nonstop operation to New York JFK Airport on August 1st, thus 
our stop in Shannon for the New York flights will be 
eliminated.  To compensate for the suspension of utilizing 
the immigration facilities at Shannon for New York bound 
flights.  We have instructed all concerned departments to 
insure that APIS is strictly and meticulously implemented and 
the passport reading equipment is made immediately available 
at all points where boarding passes are issued to ensure 
strict adherence to the new regulations.  However, we were 
promised few months ago to be provided with the good number 
of scanners so as to verify the information on the passports, 
visas and green cards, yet unfortunately we still did not 
receive them.  Meanwhile, our Regional Manager in the US is 
in constant contact with the INS and Customs Departments who 
are all working on removing any obstacles or technical 
difficulties that are causing any discrepancy in the 
transmission of the information. 
 
However, the new requirements set forth by the INS and the US 
Customs Departments will no doubt have serious and 
devastating affects on all airlines, and in particular small 
airlines such as Royal Jordanian.  As much as we understand 
the objectives of the APIS which we are strictly adhering to 
and support the US government overall goals, yet we see that 
the demand of 97% accuracy in transmitting the information is 
an objective that is impossible to achieve.  Experience with 
the system over the past few months demonstrated that 
anything above 85% is not consistently achievable. 
Furthermore, some of the data required are not 
machine-readable, as they need to be keyed in, thus making 
errors almost inevitable.  The fines set forth by the new 
mandate for failure to have this high rate of accuracy are 
considered inappropriate, unfair and punitive. 
 
We at Royal Jordanian request that through your good offices, 
ask the concerned US Authorities to suspend the fines which 
went into affect as of April this year, until experts 
establish a practical system with progressive and realistic 
performance targets.  In addition and as I have mentioned 
earlier about our upcoming nonstop operation to New York, 
Kennedy Airport, we request your support with the relevant US 
Authorities such as the INS, TSA, FAA, Customs Department 
etc. to advise us regarding any special requirements and 
facilities this operation will need to facilitate its nonstop 
operation. 
 
Your usual support and understanding is immensely 
appreciated, and I shall look forward to hearing from you 
soon. 
 
Sincerely Yours, 
 
Samer Majali 
end text. 
Gnehm 

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