South Africa | SITA

South Africa

iBorders® TravelerData has exceeded our expectations ensuring the smooth arrival of the hundreds of thousands of visitors to South Africa for the FIFA World Cup.

Mkuseli Apleni , Director General, Department of Home Affairs, South Africa
05 November 2011

South Africa strengthened border security for the 2010 FIFA World Cup with Advance Passenger Processing.

The business issue

As South Africa prepared to host the FIFA 2010 World Cup, it faced a number of challenges related to the influx of hundreds of thousands of visitors. Not only did the country need to improve its border security, it also wanted to create a more secure environment and reduce the administrative burden of security. At the same time, it wished to accelerate passenger processing at its airports – ultimately enhancing the traveler experience.

South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs was particularly interested in a proactive solution, which would enable them to analyze and pre-screen travelers before they arrived. If necessary, this would allow them to stop any unauthorized or ‘undesirable’ visitors at the point of departure – thereby avoiding any expenses associated with processing and repatriating these visitors.

In February 2009, the South African government chose iBorders® TravelerData InteractiveData – the world’s only commercially available interactive Advance Passenger Information system and the first such system in Africa.

SITA's solution

Implemented in just nine months, iBorders TravelerData effectively moved South Africa's borders to the point of departure. It enabled both airlines and governments to transfer passport details in an interactive and real-time manner as passengers checked in for their flights.

"iBorders TravelerData has exceeded our expectations ensuring the smooth arrival of the hundreds of thousands of visitors to South Africa for the FIFA World Cup. It allowed us to concentrate our efforts on those suspects, hooligans and others, who posed a real risk to the country, speeding up the entry process for the majority of passengers upon their arrival, ” says Mkuseli Apleni, Director General, Department of Home Affairs, South Africa.

So how does it work?

Imagine a passenger checking in to travel from London to South Africa. At check-in his passport is  scanned and the data is sent electronically to the Department of Home Affairs. There the systems check to ensure that he has the correct travel documentation and is not on any watch list. After just a few seconds, the airline agent receives instructions advising them to either allow the individual to board or, in exceptional circumstances, to deny boarding. Most passengers pass these checks, are given their boarding passes and can continue through security, to board the plane and take their flight.

In June and July 2010 alone, South Africa processed more than 1.5 million passengers using iBorders TravelerData. Approximately 350 were subjected to extra examination, while more than 60 people were prevented from entering the country because their names appeared on either South Africa’s Visa and Entry Stop List or watch lists (provided by Interpol and football’s governing body FIFA.)

At the same time, iBorders TravelerData helped South African airports more quickly and efficiently process passengers upon arrival, by enabling them to reduce the lengthy screening process, while enabling the authorities to focus on people who could potentially pose a threat to the country’s security.

The smooth operation of the system throughout the event was also possible thanks to the SITA Global Services operational team who provided unrivalled round-the-clock operational support. Working with this group, South Africa’s permanent SITA Service Manager ensured optimized performance for the new system, delivering continuous service improvements by focusing on proactive preventative maintenance and ensuring that all support mechanisms were in place in the event of any outage. As a result iBorders TravelerData was a success during the entire event.

However, the South African government weren’t the only ones to benefit from iBorders TravelerData. More than 80% of airlines who used the system on flights to South Africa were also able to reduce their administrative and turnaround costs, while eliminating fines associated with transporting incorrectly documented or otherwise inadmissible travelers.

When governments adopt border management solutions, they need to ensure that the appropriate legislation is in place to support these solutions. For example, sustainable international standards need to protect the privacy of individual passengers. As a strong supporter for the development of international and industry standards for transmitting and processing passenger data for border management applications, SITA can help provide advice in this area.


SITA iBorders TravelerData provided a number of important class benefits to the South African government, its airports and the many airlines that fly to South Africa:

  • It enabled the government to be proactive – not reactive. They could now identify any potential issues at check-in,rather than wait for visitors to arrive in the country.
  • All parties concerned – from the airlines to the government – avoided the costs of repatriation.
  • Airports could more quickly and efficiently process passengers at arrival, knowing that they had already been analyzed and pre-cleared before departure.

Ultimately, iBorders TravelerData also helped enhance the passenger journey – ensuring they had a safe and efficient travel experience.

“Governments, airlines and passengers all benefit from the interactive and real-time process of iBorders TravelerData because security is increased, carriers’ costs are reduced and the overwhelming majority of visitors who are legitimate travelers experience smoother, faster processing. These benefits can be enjoyed not only during major world sporting events like the World Cup and Olympics but every day of the year,” said Francesco Violante – CEO, SITA.

While the FIFA 2010 World Cup served as a catalyst for implementing the new interactive API system, iBorders TravelerData became an important legacy from the tournament. The government has continued to use the system to ensure high levels of border security and smooth arrivals for all visitors to South Africa.

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