Danish transport companies say passenger ID checks would be tough to implement

SAS and Scandlines worry that checks could lead to less services and some dicey situations

The Danish government is moving quickly with its plans to introduce a carrier liability law that would require the major transport operators to check IDs on all air, rail and sea routes in and out of Denmark.

However, airline SAS and ferry operator Scandlines have rejected their overall plan and schedule as unworkable.

They have told DR today that just one week to prepare would not be long enough, that they would have to cut back on services to accommodate the time needed to check passengers’ IDs, and that they would feel uneasy about performing a job that is better suited to the police or border guards.

The government is rushing the proposal through an eight-day consultation phase (January 27-December 4), and the proposed bill, should it be submitted, would include a provision to fine transport companies that do not comply with the new requirements.

Short notice
According to Lars Wigelstorp Andersen, the vice president for public affairs and infrastructure at SAS, checking passenger’s IDs and visa documents requires training employees in proper conduct – a task that cannot be implemented at short notice.

Andersen said the airlines would need at least two to four weeks to train the staff to perform the checks according to the proposed law.

“It is absurd that we would then be fined if we didn’t do the checks properly,” Andersen told DR.

Andersen is also worried that checking passengers’ travel documents could escalate into heated situations.

“This is normally a task for the police or border guards. It’s a bit worrying that our employees, who don’t have the same authority, should be put in such a situation.”

Longer waiting times
Scandlines, which provides ferry services to Germany and Sweden, expects that if the bill is adopted, the company will offer fewer crossings.

“The possibility of having to do 100 percent ID checks would lead to a fundamental change in our business concept [currently the ferries spend only 15 minutes in a port] and it will have serious consequences for the company’s economy,” Scandlines stated in an email to DR.