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Biometrics deployments to facilitate airport passenger checks gain traction in US, India

SITA launches digital visas
Biometrics deployments to facilitate airport passenger checks gain traction in US, India

Systems to automate and expedite checks for passengers at airports with biometrics are finding more space as the travel industry continues to regain its boom. This is the case in the United States where the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) service has announced an enhanced biometrics-based passenger check method at two airport locations in Dallas and Houston for Global Entry members. A similar system has also been introduced for some gates at the Tampa International Airport in Florida after many months of trial. Meanwhile, air transport ICT specialist SITA has launched solutions to help governments develop their digital visa ecosystems to facilitate travel, as discussions for the implementation of a contactless passenger management system at India airports dubbed ‘Digi Yatra’ continue with the first phase launch just weeks away.

CBP face biometrics passenger kiosks at Dallas, Houston airports

Since July 26, all Global Entry passengers travelling through the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) or Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston, Texas, have been subjected to accelerated checks using face biometric kiosks installed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Global Entry is a CBP program that allows expedited clearance with biometrics for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.

According to CBP, the process avoids the use of paper receipts, reduces the number of physical touch points and will further secure and streamline travel for Global Entry travelers while protecting their privacy and enhancing the customer experience.

The new paperless biometric kiosks use facial comparison and mobile officer technology by confirming traveler identity and making an admissibility decision without producing a receipt.

“We’re very pleased to have both DFW and IAH Airports come on board to enhance our Global Entry Arrival process,” says Judson W. Murdock II, CBP director of Field Operations, Houston. “This enhancement will allow us to streamline the arrival process for Global Entry members by continuing to reduce the time in the arrivals line for thousands of eligible travelers entering the United States.”

Biometric screening now available at Tampa Int’l airport departure gates

It is now possible for departing passengers at the Tampa International Airport to go through biometric screening, as part of the airport’s objectives of improving efficiency, safety and convenience during the boarding process.

Already, eight biometric scanners have been installed at departure gates of international airlines at the airport, and many other scanners are said to be underway, according to a blog article on the airport’s website.

The boarding process is quick and convenient, the airport officials say, with boarding for 130 passengers being able to be completed in eleven minutes, as opposed to between 30 and 40 minutes for manual methods.

“By 2024, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has mandated that all U.S. international flights use biometric scanners,” TPA IT Analyst David Golden says. “The ones we’ve been implementing at TPA will replace, in many cases, the traditional boarding pass scanners.”

Golden said many airlines are working with the airport to implement the process, promising that in the next years, passengers travelling through the airport will be able to check a bag, use the shuttles, pass through TSA and board a flight, without needing a paper boarding pass.

SITA rolls out digital visa system to encourage travel

SITA has unveiled digital visa and electronic travel authorization systems dubbed the SITA eVisa and SITA Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), to help governments meet the growing demand for digital travel solutions.

The objective is also to strengthen security and improve travel experience for travelers, reduce administrative burden, and increase visitor flows thereby promoting spending that benefits local economies and creates employment, states a SITA news release.

The SITA eVisa and ETA are designed with ICAO’s Visible Digital Seal (DVS) which guarantees enhanced security and fraud prevention.

The launch of the latest SITA solutions reflects the organization’s willingness over the past 25 years in deploying border management solutions, such as the ETA system used during the 2000 Summer Olympics in Australia, to support cross-border mobility while safeguarding borders.

“Adopting eVisa and ETA supports national prosperity. We’ve productized our proven and robust travel authorization systems to benefit more nations around the world as they shift to digitalize and future-proof their borders. The solutions help countries to cope with growing passenger volumes, improve security and efficiency, and deliver a more seamless travel experience that travelers demand, removing the complexities of applying for traditional visas,” says Jeremy Springall, head of SITA at borders.

SITA airport solutions have been deployed in more than 70 countries.

Consultations continue on India’s ‘Digi Yatra’ as first phase launch nears

A meeting of the Consultative Committee of India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation was held recently, with committee members making suggestions on how to carry on with the ‘Digi Yatra’ project, the government has announced.

Digi Yatra is a government plan to introduce contactless and seamless methods for passenger management across airports in the country using facial recognition technology.

Revised guidelines of the project have been approved, as the first phase of the project is due to be launched at the Varanasi and Bengaluru airports on August 15, 2022.

The rollout will continue in five other airports from next year.

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