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Rebounding air passenger numbers drive biometric gate and digital ID app expansions

Rebounding air passenger numbers drive biometric gate and digital ID app expansions

Biometric e-gates at airports have been deployed at 250 airports in 100 countries around the world, according to the latest report from Acuity Market Intelligence.

The deployments include over 3,600 automated border control gates, and roughly half that number of biometric boarding gates and ‘FacePods’ are operating in 80-plus locations.

Acuity has produced reports on biometric touchpoint pricing, Automated Border Control gate deployments, and deployments for biometric boarding. The three reports can also be purchased as a bundle.

The market for airport biometric to facilitate passenger processing is “heating up as passengers return to the skies in pre-COVID numbers,” says Acuity Principal Analyst and Chief Strategist C. Maxine Most in a LinkedIn post.

The post shows that North America makes up more than 42 percent of the market, while Asia makes up 30 percent, and Europe makes up just over 16 percent.

The speed gains of biometric passport controls are seen in new stats from Dubai International, which says passport checks for 96 percent of departing passengers took less than 5 minutes in 2022, Zawya reports.

The airport claims it handled 66 million passengers in 2022, 127 percent more than the prior year, making it the busiest international hub in the world.

Dubai’s airport uses face and iris biometrics to process passengers, including technology from Vision-Box.

Digi Yatra has been used for biometric boarding by 160,000 people in India, according to the latest figured from the country’s Ministry of Civil Aviation. The app has been downloaded to Android or iOS devices by 422,000 people, with more likely as the program expands to new airports.

The program was used by less than 0.1 percent of travellers at Varanasi Airport on December 1, 2022, but 37 percent by February 2, 2023.

NEC and Vision-Box provide technology for Digi Yatra.

Deployments in Sacramento, Greece, Thailand and UAE

Sacramento International Airport has announced the deployment of face biometric boarding gates from Amadeus to perform U.S. Customs and Border Protection checks.

The deployment is expected to make identity verification faster and less stressful, as well as touchless.

“Sacramento joins other leading airports in the US that are harnessing the unique qualities of facial biometric verification to enhance the passenger experience,” says Amadeus SVP Airport & Airline Operations Americas Betros Wakim in the announcement. “At Amadeus we are working with a growing number of airports and airlines to build biometric identity technology into different stages of the airport experience, from check-in to bag drop and also boarding. Where possible, we advocate for a cloud approach so different airlines can be easily integrated with an airport’s biometric infrastructure. Biometrics is poised to be one of the defining aviation trends of 2023.”

Aegean has integrated its app with the gov.gr platform to allow Aegean and Olympic passengers to add a digital ID to their Mobile Boarding Pass. A digitized version of the passenger’s identity document is stored on their mobile device, thanks to a capability backed by the Greek Ministry of Digital Governance.

A photo accompanying the announcement shows a demonstration of a smartphone being scanned by an automated gate.

Aegean passengers can also utilize SITA’s Smart Path biometrics.

Biometric check-in is being trialled for Thai Airways passengers at Suvarnabhumi Airport for a daily flight between Bangkok and Singapore, with their consent.

The biometric service is available at self-service kiosks and bag drop counters, according to the announcement.

Sharjah Airport in the UAE is now in the final phase of its facial recognition project, having completed the first 50 percent, according to MENAFN. An integration with immigration and airline systems is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Sharjah is the UAE’s third-largest city.

The new deployments come on the eve of Passenger Terminal Expo, which will be held March 14 to 16 in Amsterdam. NEC Corporation of America will demonstrates its face biometrics, digital identity verification and authentication, biometric boarding, object detection and other technologies at the trade show, including SITA Smart Path, which is powered by NEC I:Delight.

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