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Airport biometric deployments continue, but not fast enough for IATA


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) will propose a resolution at its annual general meeting to accelerate the implementation of its One ID biometric initiative, as the industry prepares for air traffic to double by 2035, FlightGlobal reports.

IATA is taking an approach to the roll-out based on harmonization, standardization, and interoperability.

IATA Senior Vice-president for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security Nick Careen says capacity is forcing the issue, and touchpoints at some busy airports are already saturated.

“There is not one airport on the planet handling 10 million-plus passengers annually that doesn’t have a plan to implement some sort of biometric into the passenger journey,” says Careen.

He also notes that the efficiency of biometrics could free up around 40 percent of terminal space, as certain areas would no longer need to be separated off. Careen expects the “five eyes” – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the U.S. – will be among the first to implement One ID, but it will take five to 10 years for full, global adoption.

Narita International deployment details emerge

The deployment of NEC facial recognition to Narita International Airport near Tokyo for a curb-to-gate One ID system was officially unveiled by the airport operator at a press conference.

The system is on track for launch in 2020, with Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways using the multi-touchpoint biometric technology, according to Kyodo News. Passengers will still need to present a passport for immigration screening, but luggage checks take place at a biometric kiosk, and boarding gates also use facial biometrics.

“We hope to further expand the use of our facial recognition technology to duty-free shopping, to purchase rail passes or in emergency situations, such as when a passenger falls ill at an airport,” says NEC Senior Vice President Yutaka Ukegawa.

Hamad International reaches second phase

The second phase of the ‘Smart Airport’ program at Qatar’s Hamad International Airport (HIA) has been launched to extend the trial of facial biometric technology to all touchpoints in the passenger journey, International Airport Review reports.

Passengers’ flight, passport, and biometric data is combined into a single digital record through a self check-in kiosk or mobile app, and facial biometrics are then used for bag drop, security gate, and boarding processes, in line with plans announced by the airport late last year.

Up to 40 percent of passengers on home carrier Qatar airways prefer to use the self check-in, and 20 percent opt for the automated bag drop process, according to the report.

“In line with our vision and strategic plan, we continue to invest in customer-centric innovative technology to provide fast, seamless and enjoyable travel experiences,” says HIA COO Engr. Badr Mohammed Al Meer. “Our approach to identity management is unique and holistic, in that we foresee wide-scale deployment of biometric capability across both mandated and voluntary passenger touch points while addressing customer data privacy concerns in line with local and international regulations.”

The Smart Airport system also enables the operator to monitor passenger wait times in real-time.

Bangkok airport deploys biometric immigration screening

Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok, Thailand has deployed a system for fingerprint biometric and facial recognition scans of all travellers entering and leaving the country, Thai Visa reports.

The system is being rolled out to all immigration checkpoints nationwide, according to the report, and has already been installed at Phuket airport. At the time of the Phuket installation, the deadline for nation-wide system implementation was pushed back from May 2 to July 1, and it is now the end of July.

The system is credited with leading to an arrest for the first time after a man attempted to board a flight at Suvarnabhumi International Airport on a fraudulent passport last week with $500,000 in cash.

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