SITA, Hamad International Airport to trial biometric passenger processing solutions

SITA and Hamad International Airport (HIA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which establishes a framework for the companies to trial and improve advanced biometrics-based passenger processing solutions at HIA in Qatar, according to a report by eTurboNews.

The main focus of the MoU — which was signed jointly by Hamad International Airport chief operating officer, Engr. Badr Mohammed Al Meer and Hani El-Assaad, SITA’s president of Middle East, India and Africa — is to advance HIA’s initiative to implement seamless identity management across all key passenger service points using biometrics.

The trials will assess the effectiveness of robots for passenger facilitation, blockchain technology for rapid and secure sharing of data across stakeholders, and the potential use of augmented and virtual reality for operational concepts.

SITA will provide and commission 62 of its common-use check-in kiosks, with bag tag printing capability, which will improve passenger experience for self-service check-in and enable progressive deployment of self-service bag-drop facilities.

The global IT provider will also provide and commission boarding pass verification e-gates, located in the area before departures’ border control, which will use biometrics to identify passengers.

Consistent with HIA’s strategy, all systems that are being acquired/upgraded for passenger processing (check-in, bag drop, and aircraft boarding) will be integrated with biometric sensors.

This will provide improved security oversight and the potential to deliver a seamless end-to-end journey through the airport using a single biometric token.

“HIA’s efforts towards innovation and its strategic alliances with key partners such as SITA, all contribute towards its ‘Smart Airport’ vision that was officially launched in May 2016 under the patronage of HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani,” Al Meer said. “Our aim is to empower our passengers to experience a seamless journey at their own pace, all the while keeping them informed about what matters to them most.

“The use of biometrics as the only verification required at each passenger touch point along the airport journey will go a long way in improving the flow of passengers, providing a better travel experience as well as greater operational visibility for the stakeholders. SITA has already demonstrated excellent capability and agility in pioneering and optimizing biometric exit checks for the boarding process at HIA. We believe that such joint efforts will contribute to digital transformations across the air transport industry.”

The partnership comes on the heels of the successful industry-first pilot of biometric exit checks conducted by SITA and HIA in Qatar’s airport in 2016.

SITA provided Smart Path technology at HIA for the pilot, which led to the optimization of the technology and its further implementation with major airports and airlines around the world.

The Smart Path technology seamlessly integrates into existing common-use airport infrastructure and airline systems, allowing passengers to use biometrics each step of the journey.

“We at SITA welcome the opportunity to work with a world-leading hub such as Hamad International Airport to push the boundaries of innovation to truly change the way passengers will travel in future,” El-Assaad said. “Our vision to make air travel easier at every step fits neatly with the Hamad International Airport’s ‘Smart Airport’ vision and together we can help reshape the future of air transport.”

Earlier this year, SITA released the results of its “2017 SITA Passenger IT Trends Survey”, which found that airline passenger satisfaction is higher when self-service technologies, such as biometrics, are used.

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