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European airports 'unprepared' for new fingerprint rules

European airports 'unprepared' for new fingerprint rules

A new report has suggested dozens of airports across Europe are not prepared to introduce new fingerprint rules later this year.

Biometric data technology is being introduced as part of the European Entry/Exit System (EES) which is due to come into force in October and will apply to all non-EU citizens who do not require a visa and will replace the the scanning and stamping of passports, but The Telegraph newspaper reports many smaller airports have yet to install the necessary systems.

Introduction of the system has already been delayed several times - including to avoid disrupting this summer's Olympic Games in Paris - and it is now scheduled to go live on October 6.

However, senior figures in the airline industry are said to be concerned that a lack of preparation will led to mammoth delays later in the year.

Rafael Schvartzman, regional head for Europe of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said: “The industry is concerned there are critical unresolved items which will require urgent and coordinated action from both the EU and member states prior to its implementation.”

He also called for a transition period to "alleviate the impact of EES" if queues become a major problem as well as a support helpline to be established for airlines to assist travellers.

The EU has described EES as "an automated IT system for registering travellers from third-countries, both short-stay visa holders and visa exempt travellers, each time they cross an EU external border. "

It added: "The system will register the person's name, type of the travel document, biometric data (fingerprints and captured facial images) and the date and place of entry and exit, in full respect of fundamental rights and data protection.

"It will also record refusals of entry."

It is aimed at helping prevent "irregular migration and help protect the security of European citizens" as well as "identifying more efficiently over-stayers as well as cases of document and identity fraud".

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