ACI, Atlanta and Delta to pilot international arrivals app

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The Airports Council International North America (ACI-NA) will begin piloting a new smart phone app designed to reduce wait times for international arrivals at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International airport in July.

The app designed by Airside Mobile will store biographical information and move administrative tasks to arriving passengers from US customs and border protection (CBP) officers, says Matt Cornelius, managing director of air policy at ACI-NA, on the sidelines of the ACI-NA JumpStart air service development conference in Edmonton today.

“Think of it as the kiosk on your smart phone,” says Deborah McElroy, executive vice-president of ACI-NA, at the conference.

The app will initially only be available to passengers with US and Canadian passports but – if the pilot is successful – could be rolled out to additional nationalities, similar to the automated passport control kiosks that airlines and airports began installing to reduce wait times in 2013. Users do not need to pre-register to use the app.

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines installed automated kiosks by BorderXpress at their Detroit and Newark hubs, respectively, earlier in June. The kiosks reduce average wait times by up to 45%, according to US CBP.

Passengers arriving on international flights faced record wait times at US airports in 2013. Waits peaked at 225min at New York JFK, 212min at Chicago O’Hare and 210min at Dallas/Fort Worth during the year, according to CBP and Wall Street Journal data.

Atlanta-based Delta is participating in the pilot with ACI-NA and the Atlanta airport, but the app will be available to passengers travelling on all international airlines, says Cornelius.

If successful, ACI-NA plans to expand the app to three or four more airports before the end of the year, says McElroy.