Nearly three quarters of airlines and airports investing in biometrics

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Airlines and airports are stepping up to deliver the investment needed to ensure secure and easy travel for passengers, with 71 percent of airlines and 77 percent of airports planning major programs or research and development in biometric ID management, according to research by SITA.

The SITA 2018 Air Transport IT Insights shows that identity verification at self-service check-in kiosks is used in 41 percent of airports, and 74 percent plan to have deployed the technology by the end of 2021. Biometric self-boarding gates are expected to be used by 59 percent of airports and 63 percent of airlines in the next three years.

“Secure and seamless travel is a must for the air transport industry,” says SITA CEO Barbara Dalibard. “It is encouraging to see that both airlines and airports are investing in biometric technology to deliver a secure, paperless way to identify passengers across multiple steps of the journey. We have already seen great success where we have implemented it at airports across the world.

“As the research shows, integration causes challenges and the variety of legislative demands can be daunting for airlines and airports,” Dalibard continues. “To deliver a seamless passenger experience, we must all collaborate – airlines, airports, governments and industry suppliers – and use technology to automate, and even eliminate, tedious processes. We achieve the best results when we work together, this has been most apparent when we incorporate secure biometrics into the passenger journey.”

More than a third of airlines consider integrating the technology and a lack of standards for integrations to be major challenges, while 39 percent of airports say meeting government requirements is also a major challenge. The report also indicates significant interest from airlines and airports in deploying blockchain and AI technologies.

A report just released by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General cast doubt on the ability of Customs and Border Patrol to meet its goal to confirm all foreign departures with biometrics at the top 20 U.S. airports by 2021. Rapid progress can still be seen, however.

Honk Kong International Airport (HKIA) has announced the launch of new biometric self-service e-Security gates in its Terminal 1, Airport-technology.com reports. The airport plans to deploy 44 of the gates by the first quarter of 2019, to provide superior document checking accuracy and reduce the time necessary for the process to 20 seconds.

The Times of India reports that facial recognition e-gates will be deployed at Chennai airport by 2020 as part of the Airports Authority of India’s DigiYatra scheme.

“The scheme will be introduced in two phases and Chennai will get it in the second phase,” a senior AAI official says, according to the Times of India. “A tender will be floated in a month to install the system at Pune, Varanasi, Kolkata and Vijayawada. This will act as a pilot. Once it is found to be hassle-free, it can be introduced at other airports quickly.”

Shannon Airport in Ireland has also deployed facial recognition technology, which will be used for U.S. preclearance. The airport says it is the first in Europe to use the technology for travelers heading to the U.S., after Aruba launched a similar program earlier this year.

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