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US relents on dual nationals but airlines caught

February 1, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Australian passport holders can now enter the US regardless of whether they are dual nationals of seven named countries on President Donald Trump’s banned list.

Airlines are still working out how Trump’s new executive order will affect them and IATA has implored the new US Administration to give airlines some notice in future before imposing such measures.

In lightning moves at the weekend, Trump signed executive orders banning the arrival of visitors or migrants from seven named majority-Muslim countries for 90 days. The countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The move was said to include dual nationals of those countries, but Canada and Britain negotiated exemptions and now Australia has confirmed the same.

In an advisory update issued yesterday, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trad (DFAT) said: “On 30 January 2017, US officials assured the Australian Government that Australian passport holders (regardless of country of birth, nationality or whether they hold another passport) are not affected by the US Executive Order on Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals.”

International flight crews, however, have been caught out. Until now, a Crewmember Visa has been enough to legally enter the US if a foreign national is working for an international airline in the US. Now, if a crewmember holds a passport for one of the banned countries, they may not be able to clear Customs and Immigration after landing at a US airport.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), which has United Airlines (UAL), Alaska Airlines (ALK) and Hawaiian Airlines (HA) in its union, told Yahoo News that the ban has already had a negative impact.

Airlines and travel companies are bewildered by the speed and lack of notice with which the new US Administration is pushing out edicts.

Emirates reportedly changed its pilots and cabin crews on flights to the US to comply with Trump’s order. The Dubai-based carrier, which has 11 flights to US cities each day, made “the necessary adjustments to our crewing, to comply with the latest requirements,” an Emirates spokeswoman told Reuters.

IATA said Trump’s executive order was “issued without prior coordination or warning, causing confusion among both airlines and travellers. It also placed additional burdens on airlines to comply with unclear requirements, to bear implementation costs and to face potential penalties for non-compliance.

“We ask for early clarity from the US administration on the current situation. Moreover, we urge all governments to provide sufficient advance coordination of changes in entry requirements so that travellers can clearly understand them and airlines can efficiently implement them.​”

IATA said it recognised that states had the right and duty to protect their citizens by enforcing their borders.

“Where this has implications for air travel, we work with our member airlines to help them comply with these requirements efficiently and effectively. Global systems and procedures exist to support this activity. IATA’s Timatic online solution, for example, is a global database for travel document requirements. It is updated constantly and used by airlines and travel agents around the world.

“These systems can only support the efficient implementation of any government’s directives by the global air transport industry with advance coordination as well as with detailed and consistent operational information.”

Written by Peter Needham

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