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China Southern Airlines joins US Customs system

China Southern Airlines, China's largest airline, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to join APIS (Advance Passenger Information System) and fully cooperate with the US Customs Service, it was announced in Guangzhou last December. It is the first Chinese Airline to fully comply with US Customs requirements.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed on Dec 4 by Mr. Wang Changshun, President of China Southern Airlines. "We have developed a system wherein we can gather specific passenger information and transmit it via e-mail to our LAX airport offices and from there to the appropriate US Customs offices prior to the departure from China of our non-stop transpacific service from Guangzhou to Los Angeles," said Mr. Wang.

APIS is an automated system capable of performing database queries on air passengers prior to their arrival in the US from foreign locations. US Customs, in cooperation with the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the airline industry, initiated development of APIS in 1988 to collect biographical information (name, date of birth, country of residence, etc.) from air passengers prior to departure for the US from foreign locations. Air carriers participating in the program submit passenger data at the same time that the plane departs for the US.

Prior to a plane's arrival in the US, the APIS data is checked against the combined federal law enforcement database, known as the Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS). IBIS includes the combined databases of US Customs, INS, State Department, and 21 other federal agencies. Names are also checked against the FBI's National Crime Information Center wanted persons files.

The largest airline in The People's Republic of China for the past 21 years, China Southern Airlines connects more than 80 cities around the globe. Major business and vacation destinations served in China include: Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Guilin, Hong Kong, Kunming, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuhan and as well as international service, including: Amsterdam, Bangkok, Fukuoka, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Los Angeles, Manila, Melbourne, Osaka, Penang, Phnom Penh, Seoul, Singapore and Sydney.