Immigration New Zealand says Latam Airlines has been prosecuted for allowing a Brazilian passenger who had previously been refused entry to New Zealand to fly back here - despite being told five times not to let him board the flight.
Latam Airlines was fined a total of $9,000 at Manukau District Court after pleading guilty to failing to comply with the airline's obligations under the Immigration Act 2009. The maximum sentence is a fine of $50,000.
Approval for an airline to bring a passenger to New Zealand is obtained through Immigration New Zealand's Advance Passenger Processing (APP) system, which advises airlines whether a passenger is allowed to board or not.
The Latam check-in agent at Santiago airport entered the Brazilian passenger's name five times into the APP system using variations of his name and each time it returned a DO NOT BOARD directive. The check-in agent then put another incorrect spelling of the name in the system, which returned a directive to board with outward ticket. The passenger then boarded a flight to Auckland, but was removed from New Zealand the same day he arrived.
Immigration New Zealand National Manager, Border Senta Jehle says the case is particularly serious as the passenger had previously been refused entry to New Zealand and the airline completely ignored the alert to prevent him from travelling to New Zealand.
"INZ takes this type of offending very seriously as airlines have a crucial role to play in maintaining the integrity of New Zealand's immigration system and keeping the border secure," Ms Jehle says. "We work very closely with airlines to help this happen and it's very disappointing that we've had to take prosecution action."