This image released by Interpol shows the two Iranians who
were traveling with stolen passports on a missing Malaysia
New Zealand border authorities concede not every
traveller's passport is checked with Interpol to determine it
Border control cross-checks with Interpol only when officials
are alerted by a number of other "flags".
There has been widespread alarm around the world this week
that two passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370
were able to get on the flight with false passports, exposing
what many believe is a loop-hole in aviation security.
While each passenger goes through a number of strict checks -
including having their name checked against international
fugitives and "banned flyers"lists - the vast Interpol
database that holds information on stolen passports is only
checked when an individual is considered a "concern".
There is still no trace of the jetliner, which disappeared
from radar on Saturday with 239 people aboard while flying
from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
But the search area has been expanded and Malaysia Airlines
says the western coast of the country is now the focus of the
Despite automatic checks with Interpol not being made, Karen
Urwin, Immigration New Zealand's Manager for Border
Operations, told the Herald she was "pretty confident"that if
the passengers on the Malaysia Airlines flight had tried to
come here, they would have never been allowed on the plane.
"If those two were trying to get on to a flight into New
Zealand we almost certainly would have pinged them through
all those other red flags around how their travel was booked,
who booked it, their bizarre travel route ...
"There's all those flags and we would have intercepted them
at check-in and chances are we would have offloaded them."
She said New Zealand was a world leader in many aspects of
border control, but some countries didn't have the luxury of
the sophisticated systems used here, such as the advanced
passenger processing (APP) system.
"If you don't have systems running behind it and those teams
of highly skilled, highly trained senior Immigration officers
doing that profiling; not everyone has that luxury like we
do, so no - those two guys wouldn't have got past check-in,
I'm pretty confident of that."
In some cases where the APP system flagged a possible
security concern, Immigration did go into the Interpol lost
and stolen database.
"We do have access to it but what we don't do is that
automated match. The Interpol database is so enormous and is
"You would need the combined computing power of probably Nasa
and the Pentagon to run that kind of data match [and] it
would probably take you six hours to check in."
Last year 11 false passports were discovered at New Zealand
airports, down from 34 in 2012 and 62 in 2011.
How advanced passenger processing works
* When you check in at an airport, you swipe your passport
and your passport number and details are checked. Those
details are transferred into Immigration New Zealand's
* It confirms whether you require a visa and any other
* At the same time another team is working in Auckland to
profile all the flights that come into New Zealand. They
check each passenger's name against databases, including
* Anyone identified that causes concern is not allowed to
board and Immigration NZ is called.
- Andrew Koubaridis of the NZ Herald