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Multi-touchpoint face biometrics systems unveiled at airports in Japan and France

Narita and Paris airports replace boarding passes with passenger biometrics

airport facial recognition masks

Narita International Airport Corporation (NAA) has partnered with Amadeus and NEC Corporation to allow passengers to check in using facial recognition on biometric kiosks.

After verification, passengers will be prompted to drop the luggage at an Auto Bag Drop (ABD) unit, then directed to security and boarding, where their face biometrics will be scanned again to validate their identity and permission to fly without presenting either a boarding pass or passport.

NAA selected NEC’s face biometrics for the project originally back in 2019.

The new biometric system will follow One ID’s standards from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), while kiosks and ABD units will be provided by ICM Airport Technics.

“Everyone at Narita Airport is proud to have delivered Japan’s first end-to-end biometric departure process,” said Masato Kitagawa, Manager Mechanical Systems Engineering Department at NAA.

The system is set to reduce airport checkpoint times, as well as contributing to Narita Airport’s COVID-19 response by facilitating social distancing and providing an entirely touchless solution.

“Our passengers will benefit from a low-touch, automated experience that increases safety and convenience,” Kitagawa added. “Biometric technology is an incredibly powerful tool and key in addressing the challenges posed by COVID-19.”

NEC has also published an ebook on the potential for the travel ecosystem throughout the airport and beyond it to provide a unified, seamless digital experience with NEC I:Delight, including in integrations with SITA Smart Path and Sita Flex infrastructure.

The company describes seven different possible checkpoints that can be brought together under I:Delight, and shares a 2019 estimate that passengers can save 9 minutes just during the boarding process with biometrics.

Paris Aéroport tests new facial recognition system

Currently tested together with Transavia Airlines, the new system at Paris Aéroport aims to provide a single token biometric, touchless solution for both check-in and boarding stages.

Passengers over 18 years of age, and holding a valid identity card or passport, will be able to opt-in to take advantage of the new biometric service for eligible flights departing from Paris Orly Airport, as shown in a video posted to YouTube. Passengers are asked to remove their masks to have their face biometrics captured.

According to the French airport, the facial recognition system will store passengers’ biometric data only until their flight takes off, and utilize secure encryption.

Passengers choosing to use the new service will be prompted to scan their boarding pass and identity document at a dedicated biometric terminal, then scan their faces to link the travel information to it.

Paris Aéroport confirmed passengers will also be able to use a dedicated mobile app with the biometric system.

Like the new system at Narita Airport, the biometric system being tested in Paris will also offer an automatic baggage drop-off machine option.

This post was updated at 6:45pm Eastern on April 15, 2021 to clarify that passports are not required with face biometrics for boarding at Narita Airport.

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