Face biometrics deployed by Emirates, three airports but Italy lawsuit shows resistance
Digital innovations and partnerships in the aviation industry continue to roll out as an airline and airports on three continents look to enhance passenger experience and safety through face biometrics. Not all passengers are comfortable with the adoption of biometric technology, however.
Emirates opens check-in facility with facial recognition
Dubai-based Emirates airlines has rolled out its new ‘City Check-in and Travel Store,’ to enable customers easily and conveniently book flights, check-in for flights, drop luggage, and shop for travel essentials, while saving time.
The company, in an announcement, explains that the new facility which is available 24/7 ensures self-service checks, agent-led checks at dedicated desks as well as checks with the aid of a portable robot ‘Sara’ which can match faces with scanned passports using facial recognition, check passengers in and lead them to the bag drop area.
“Emirates City Check In is our latest addition to the Emirates travel experience, showing our commitment to providing customers with an array of check-in options. Our new location is the first ultra-convenient check in and baggage drop facility conveniently located in the DIFC area. People can avoid busy periods at the airport and minimize queuing,” said Emirates Chief Operating Officer Adel al Redha.
Rob Devereux, CEO of ICD Brookfield where the new facility is located in down town Dubai said: “We are thrilled to welcome Emirates City Check-In and Travel store to ICD Brookfield Place, further enhancing our ecosystem as an attractive destination for workers, visitors, and residents. This exciting new addition will bring the convenience of city check-in to the central business district.”
Western Sydney airport hands curb-to-gate biometrics project to Amadeus
As part of plans to set up a digital airport system that will facilitate passenger check-ins and enhance user experience, the Western Sydney International Airport (WSI) has chosen aviation technology provider Amadeus as the partner to get the job done.
The airport, which is still under construction, plans to begin operations in 2026.
In a news release, Amadeus says it will deploy its Amadeus Flow integrated biometric system, which is part of its Airport Management Suite, for check-ins, bag-drop and boarding.
“Having a strategic airport systems partner to drive operational efficiency and customer experience with us gives WSI a clear advantage. Amadeus provides us with decades of experience combined with a common goal of advancing the digital experience that our customers expect,” says WSI CEO Simon Hickey.
“WSI provides much-needed aviation capacity to the Sydney market, and it will be exciting to see the impact of fully integrated systems for passengers flying from this new global gateway. Our self-service capabilities will support the airport’s goals to deliver an efficient and seamless experience for passengers,” says Sarah Samuel, Amadeus APAC SVP for airport and airline operations.
The Amadeus system will also be used for the management of core flight data.
Last month, the biometric solution of Amadeus was chosen by Sacramento International Airport for passenger screening.
Frankfurt Airport to scale up digitization efforts
A five-year framework agreement has been signed between Fraport AG, the firm which operates Frankfurt Airport, and IT consulting company CGI with the goal of improving the digital experience of customers at the airport such as facial recognition for check-ins.
Going by the deal, CGI will move some of the airport’s applications to the cloud, according to an announcement.
Also, Fraport and CGI will work together to lay a foundation for the integration of other advanced technologies such as intelligent automation and artificial intelligence within the airport’s operations.
The agreement will also help transform different processes of the airport including ground handling services, integration of AI into most of the airport’s operations such as security, baggage handling, passenger experience, air traffic management, and maintenance and operations.
Ralf Bauer, senior vice-president, Germany Central and South at CGI adds: “This new partnership is the next step in our ongoing and active support of Fraport’s major digitization projects. It gives us additional opportunities to deliver significant value to Fraport though our comprehensive IT expertise and onsite/nearshore/offshore resources.”
New TSA ID authentication tech at Baltimore airport
It is now possible for a passenger to have their identity and flight information automatically validated thanks to new technology available in all screening points controlled by the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) at the Baltimore-Washington International/Thurgood Marshall Airport.
According to a press release, the credential authentication technology (CAT) matches a person’s face with the photo that is on their ID document such as driver’s license or passport. Thirty-six biometric CAT units, which are made by Idemia I&S, have been deployed to the airport.
It is a self-service platform in which the passenger inserts their card, looks at the camera and if the ID is validated, the traveler then proceeds through the checkpoint.
Idemia I&S NA recently won a $128 million contract to supply its CAT2 scanners for airports across the U.S.
Ryanair faces lawsuit over passenger verification
In other aviation news, legal action has been brought by the Italian Federation of Travel and Tourism Associations (FIAVET) against Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair over the manner in which it verifies the identity of its agents and passengers.
The requirement by the airline of facial recognition and a copy of a passenger’s ID at the time of purchasing a ticket has been described by the travel group as a measure to limit the sale of tickets by third parties, reports ch-aviation.
According to FIAVET President Giuseppe Ciminnisi, as quoted by the aviation publication, “we are once again forced to deliberate a judicial action to defend the sacrosanct right to be able to purchase Ryanair tickets.”
FIAVET further argues that subjecting a passenger to facial recognition is a major obstacle for the ticket-selling agency for cases where tickets are to be sold to a large group of people such as for tourism or educational trips.
This is not the first time FIAVET is suing Ryanair.