Airlines around the world must transmit API PNR data to departure and destination country border authorities. Many still do this manually – but new API PNR automation methods are making the process effortless.

Key takeaways:

  • Learn about different methods to transmit API PNR data
  • Discover six benefits of an automated API PNR system

Over the past two decades, the number of states which require airlines to transmit Advanced Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to their border authorities has grown exponentially. In the early 2000’s, just a handful of countries requested API PNR data. But in 2023, over 100 countries now require it.

Passenger Information Unit (PIU) is the term most widely used for the state body in charge of collecting API PNR information in Europe. Outside Europe, this official body can have other names such as CBP for the US, Home Office for the UK, or DGMM for Turkey. In this article, we opt to use PIU as a generic term (whatever the country).

There are many methods for transmitting API PNR data to PIUs. These include everything from basic manual methods through to almost entirely automatic processes.

If you are not yet using an automated solution to transmit data to PIUs, then you could be missing out on significant cost and time savings. Let’s explore the benefits of API PNR automation.

There are many ways to send API PNR data

Passenger Information Units in most states recognise that airlines have differing ‘maturity’ levels when it comes to transmitting API PNR information. While major airlines have the capital to invest in customized IT systems, many smaller airlines simply cannot implement them. PIUs therefore accept API PNR data in many different ways.

Mainly manual methods

Airlines can usually transmit API PNR data to PIUs webportal using various manual methods:

  • Spreadsheets: Some national PIUs allow airlines to enter API PNR data into an Excel spreadsheet and upload it to a web portal.
  • Web forms: An alternative manual method is to enter API PNR information manually into the Passenger Information Unit’s web portal.

System-to-system automation

Some airlines (typically larger companies) can transmit API PNR data from their reservation system and departure control system (DCS) to the PIU. This approach permits full automation.

There are two ways to perform API PNR automation using system-to-system interfaces:

1. Airlines build the connection on their own.

  • The airline must connect its systems with multiple PIUs, for all states in which they operate. These network connections need usually to be achieved using:
    • IBM WebSphere MQ
    • IP VPN
    • Web service
  • The airline must be able to generate API PNR data in the appropriate message format (e.g., PAXLST, PNRGOV) and in the version expected by each PIU.
  • The airline must also coordinate the project with each PIU, read and understand their technical guideline, follow the imposed phases to connect, such as preliminary meetings, test phase, and send the multiple requested test messages to get the final authorization to go in production..

Self-building a system-to-system connection is therefore best suited to larger airlines given the resources, time and technical challenges involved.

2. Subscribe to this service through their current Reservation and DCS IT providers
Certain DCS and reservation systems (such as Amadeus and Sabre) offer this service. However, the flight management systems that many charter and business aviation companies use (such as FL3XX, Leon, FIMaS, MyAirops, ShedAero) simply don’t offer directly this service since API-PNR is too complex, costly, and distinct from their core business but partner with specialist API-PNR provider.

3. Use a specialized third-party tool – API-PNR provider – which automatically transmits your passenger data from your main systems (reservation, DCS, flight management).
These systems pull data from your systems and send it to the PIU in the correct format at the correct time, with no intervention from your teams required. It is the ideal solution for unscheduled aviation providers.

Learn more about GOVlink API-PNR solution : GOVlink solution

Learn more: Your complete API PNR guide

6 reasons to automate data transmission

As we have seen, there are multiple ways that airlines can share API and PNR data with Passenger Information Units. So, why choose an automated API PNR system? Here are six benefits of API PNR automation.

1. Passenger Information Units prefer it

PIUs prefer it when carriers transmit API PNR data automatically. With an automated system, you can be confident that the information that each state requests will be sent at the time they want it and in the appropriate format. Since each state’s Passenger Information Unit has its own data management system, an automated solution that integrates with their technology makes receiving your data much easier, on requested time and avoid quality problems and noncompliance.

2. Saves your airline time and money

Airline staff have many responsibilities to ensure that passengers are checked in safely, quickly, and on time. Any problem caused by incorrect API PNR data being sent, formatting problems, or addressing error messages, could mean flights get delayed. And of course, time is money in the high-pressure world of aviation. Any hold-ups caused by staff fixing data issues will cut into your revenues.

On the other hand, if you use an automated API PNR system, most of the process is done instantly by technology platforms with minimal human input. That wins you back time and money.

3. Avoid non-compliance fines

Failing to transmit complete API PNR data to Passenger Information Units, sending data too late, or sending poor quality data, may lead to penalties. In the worst-case scenario, airlines that fail to send quality and complete API PNR information may even be prevented from flying to a country.

4. Reduces the risk of human error

Manual API PNR data transmission is prone to human error. Busy airline staff may accidentally mistype passenger names, passport numbers and other details into web forms or spreadsheets. By contrast, an automated API PNR system will always transfer the correct information from your reservation system and departure control system to the Passenger Information Unit and data changes is also automatically transferred.

5. Staff can focus on higher value activities

In modern aviation, customer experience is without a doubt the greatest differentiator between airlines. But if ground staff need to spend all their time copying and pasting details from reservation or flight management systems and sending them to the various PIU, that leaves them less time to build customer relationships and add value. If you can hand this task over to a machine, then customer facing staff can do what they do best: interacting with passengers.

6. Means you are future ready

Passenger data regulation is evolving constantly. In the coming years, requirements regarding API data in UE will be adjusted in UE, EES ETIAS will be launched managed by EU-Lisa, an EU agency – read our blog to learn more. It looks increasingly likely that new governments around the world will start to expect API and PNR data to be transmitted automatically. An automated API PNR system will mean your airline is prepared for this digitized future.

Many small and medium airlines are now adopting automated API PNR data transmission platforms. Read how AirPink uses automation to ensure API PNR data gets sent more smoothly, efficiently and securely.

Contact us

Send API PNR data automatically to Passenger Information Units

Streamlane provides a SaaS platform – GOVlink – fully integrable with the airlines’ systems, that automatically transfer API PNR data to PIUs wherever the airline operates. The service is accessible to all airlines – and especially to General Aviation, Business Aviation, Unscheduled charter – and requires no technical skills to get up and running.

Learn more about our API PNR system, and begin automatically transmitting API PNR data. Contact us today to learn more.