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The Airport ID Pass – there has to be a better way…

If you’ve ever applied for an airport ID pass, you know what a painful process it can be. All staff working either airside or landside (be it permanently or temporary) at an airport are required to have a valid ID pass issued by the airport they are working in. Whilst the rules underpinned by regulation have evolved – let’s be straight – grown, over 25 years, UK airports still use the same paper based processes.

It is a confusing process for the companies applying for passes for their staff. Application rejection rates for permanent ID pass applications of between 15% and 80% at airports we work with confirm this. When the minutiae of rules (even to the extent of acceptability of certain letterheads on pro-forma) differs from site to site this creates a further administrative effort for companies whose staff work at multiple sites

Companies have to appoint an “authorised signatory” to legally undertake the airport ID pass application process within their business. This person is then responsible for ensuring that relevant information about ID pass-holders or applicants is passed to the airport ID centre and is kept up to date. For new applications they have a responsibility for obtaining references and other documents e.g. criminal record checks, which in themselves are only valid on the day they are printed. They are also responsible for verifying aspects of each application. In practice the process is undertaken by existing roles within the organisation (Security, HR, Line Managers etc.), but increasingly it is outsourced at some cost to avoid the complexity.

The application process is not only complicated, it is slow. The end to end average lead time to obtain an airport ID pass can be up to 9 weeks; costing the aviation industry millions in lost revenue as staff are not fully productive as they cannot get to site.

Despite all this, on-airport companies can be afraid to complain. Identity centres at UK airports are professional and have to balance security and customer service at the front line. Nevertheless, they are the gateway to the airports and therefore complaint is seen by some as too high a risk.

However this isn’t one sided. The airports too suffer from the process. One of the UK’s largest and most respected airports rejects between twenty and twenty-five per cent of initial applications due to administrative errors by the applicants and authorised signatories and we’ve had reports as high as eighty per cent in other leading airports. This waste, for the airport and on-airport companies is at the heart for the need to change…

There has to be a better way for airport ID passes…

Technology has moved on – look at tax self-assessment. Even in this most rigorous, rule driven, government process taxpayers expect to submit their tax returns on line, ensuring more accurate returns, fewer errors and for any errors to be spotted before the return is submitted.

The current paper based administrative overhead can swamp the true intent of the ID pass application process, security – to assure the identity and suitability of the individual to work in restricted areas. It’s time to re-evaluate the process with 25 year young, not 25 year old eyes and rethink the entire process and improve for all, not just automate.


To learn more about how we are working to revolutionise the airport ID pass with MTrust contact us or call us on +44(0)333 456 2001

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