Passengers arriving from overseas at South African airports for the soccer World Cup will not have to go through immigration formalities once they arrive here.

Thanks to an advance passenger processing agreement with the multinational IT specialists SITA, visitors’ details will be checked before they board the plane in their home country.

“Once everything is in order they will not have to go through any immigration checks on their arrival in South Africa,” said Khodr Akil, vice-president for SITA Middle East and Africa, in a statement released on Wednesday.

“This will save us the expense of processing and returning unauthorised visitors. We have already received the agreement and cooperation of the many airlines who fly into our country and are satisfied that the system will be up and running in time for the World Cup and, of course, for many years after.”

The SITA system will facilitate the arrival and departure of up to 500,000 football fans next year while enhancing security and reducing both administration and turnaround costs for airlines, Akil said.

In addition, airlines can expect to pay no more fines for transporting incorrectly documented or otherwise inadmissible travellers to South Africa because the APP checks will have already been carried out before boarding.

He added that this border management solution has been tried and tested in other parts of the world, notably during the 2000 Olympic Games in Australia.

“Essentially it extends a country’s border to the point of departure as the decision whether to allow entry to a passenger is made at the time of check-in when airlines receive immediate notification to allow, or not to allow, a passenger to board,” Akil said.

“For the government of the Republic of South Africa, eliminating the need to turn people back after they have arrived in the country without the appropriate entry documents will streamline administration and enhance security,” he concluded.

DATED: 22nd July 2009