Jetstar fined for immigration breach
Australian budget carrier Jetstar has been fined for switching the stated nationality of a Chinese passenger to allow her to entre New Zealand. Staff in Melbourne changed her country code from CN, representing China, to CH, representing Switzerland, meaning the woman was able to board the flight despite not having the proper papers.
Upon arrival at Christchurch Airport, the woman was given a visa as she would not have been allowed to enter without one. The Department of Labour, however, pursued criminal charges against the carrier after complaints from immigration staff in New Zealand.
During the hearing at Christchurch District Court, Jetstar’s lawyer Michael Heron said the airline was sorry about what happened. According to the New Zealand Herald, Heron went on to say that staff have since been retrained and given specific instructions on how to act in similar events.
Jetstar was ordered to pay the court costs but only fined $6,500 as Judge David Saunders ruled that it was an error due to the similarity of the country codes. He added that the breach of the immigration act was no intentional and that mistakes will be made occasionally at an airline that carries two million passengers each year.
He went on the say, however, that the fine is "sufficient'' and he hopes it will send a message to other airlines about being careful when processing important information.
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