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Airlines will now share the information of international passengers with the Central government prior to their departures. The airlines have been asked to share the international passengers’ contact and payment information among other details with customs authorities 24 hours prior to the departure of flights. The move is aimed at preventing law offenders from fleeing the country.

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), under the Ministry of Finance, on August 8 notified the 'Passenger Name Record Information Regulations, 2022'. The notification aims at "risk analysis" of passengers. This is to prevent economic and other offenders from fleeing the country.

The move also aims to check any illicit trade such as smuggling.

'The National Customs Targeting Centre-Passenger', set up by the CBIC, will process information for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of offences under the Customs Act and also for the law enforcement agencies or government departments or any other country, the notification said.

"Every aircraft operator shall transfer the passenger name record information... of passengers they have already collected such information in the normal course of business operations, to the designated customs systems," the regulations said, adding every aircraft operator will have to seek registration with customs for its implementation.

The information to be shared by airline companies for both inbound and outbound international flights. The details that will be shared include the name of the passenger, billing/payment information (credit card number), date of issue of ticket as well as intended travel, and names of other travellers in the same PNR, travel itinerary for the PNR, contact details like email id, mobile number, details of travel agency, baggage information and code share information (when one airline sells seats on another air carrier's flight).

As per the government, a total of 38 economic offenders, including Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya, and Mehul Choksi, fled the country in the past five years.

"Every aircraft operator shall transfer passenger name record information not later than 24 hours before the departure time; or at the departure time - wheels off," the regulation said. The order added that the information would be retained in the customs systems for up to five years.

It further said that for each act of non-compliance to these regulations, the aircraft operators would have to pay a penalty of a minimum of 25,000 and a maximum of 50,000.

(With agency inputs)

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