'No more last minute bookings': Airlines alarmed over EU's new EES border system

Claudia Delpero, Europe Street
Claudia Delpero, Europe Street - [email protected]
'No more last minute bookings': Airlines alarmed over EU's new EES border system
Airlines fear the EES border check system will prevent last minute bookings. Photo: AFP / Daniel Slim

After suffering multiple delays, the European Entry/Exit System – the new EU border system due to become operational in autumn 2024 – is causing headaches for airlines.


The problem is due to the requirement under the EES system for travel companies to obtain the greenlight on passengers’ data 48 hours before departure.

The “hard” 48-hour deadline “is too long” and “will preclude late ticket sales,” according to a document submitted by Ryanair Holdings plc, the parent company of Ryanair, Buzz, Lauda and Malta Air, to the UK’s House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee.

The EES is an IT system to register travellers arriving from non-EU countries who do not require a visa (those with residency permits in EU countries are not affected by EES), including the UK and the US, each time they cross a border in or out of the Schengen area.

Instead of having the passport manually stamped, passengers will have to scan it at self-service kiosks before crossing the border. The system will register the person’s name, type of travel document, plus biometric data such as fingerprints and facial images and the date and place of entry and exit. Under EU rules, the first registration will have to be verified by a border guard.

The system was designed to increase security and to ensure that non-EU nationals visiting the Schengen area for short periods do not stay more than 90 days in any 180-day period.

READ ALSO: EU confirms timeline for rollout of EES and ETIAS border check systems

First proposed in 2008, the implementation of the system has been delayed multiple times because of its complexity. In October it was agreed that the EES will become operational in autumn 2024, after the Paris Olympics.

Under the EES, airlines will be required to verify at least 48 hours before departure the travel eligibility of passengers by sending verification queries to the system. This will respond whether they are "OK" or "NOT OK" for boarding. Airlines will be liable if they allow non-compliant passengers on board.

Given the impact of the EES on the travel industry in the UK, the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee has launched an inquiry calling for views from affected parties by 12 January 2024.


On Thursday, the committee published the submission by Ryanair, which said that the overall project “has been poorly managed.”

“The aviation industry has expressed dissatisfaction with the way these programmes have been managed by EU-LISA [the EU agency in charge of the IT system] and currently we are awaiting the commencement of testing, as there are no test environments ready and available for us to use yet,” the document says.

Ryanair added that the procedures to handle possible system outages “remain unclear.”

READ ALSO: EES and ETIAS - What are the big changes for travel in Europe?

The airline said that the new system will also “result in significant duplication of effort” because of the high proportion of people exempted. The EES will not apply to EU citizens, non-EU citizens requiring a visa to enter the EU (as they will have already provided fingerprints for their visa application) and non-EU citizens resident in EU countries.

“This means that we are forced to duplicate systems and processes, so it is a far from ideal arrangement; normally one would expect such a development introducing electronic systems to improve, rather than detract from efficiency,” the Ryanair document says.


In July, a UK parliament committee heard the concerns about possible disruptions from representatives of Eurostar, Getlink and the Port of Dover, which are affected by ‘juxtaposed’ border controls - where EU checks take place before on UK soil. The inquiry continued in November, with a hearing involving representatives from the UK tourism industry.

In January European airlines called for a public campaign to alert third-country nationals to the new requirements.



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