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Airport biometrics see more trials with IATA, Frankfurt introduces face recognition check-in

Airport biometrics see more trials with IATA, Frankfurt introduces face recognition check-in

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and its partners have tested mobile phone-based digital travel identity supported by biometric technology on a flight from London to Rome.

IATA says that this is the first digital identity trial that has captured an entire journey, from booking a flight to arrival. The organization’s goal is to allow passengers to travel just by using a mobile phone digital wallet, loaded with a digital passport, loyalty cards and verifiable travel credentials, according to Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security.

“Our vision for future travel is fully digital and secured with biometric identification,” says Careen. ”While the technology exists to do this at each stage of a journey, linking these steps together has proven challenging. Today with our partners we showed that it is possible.”

A total of 11 companies participated in the trial, including Accenture, Amadeus, Australian Border Force, AWS, Branchspace, British Airways, IDnow, Aeroporti di Roma, SICPA, Trip.com, and Verchaska.

During the trial, IATA used its collaborative identity management solution OneID for sharing information and biometric recognition at airports.

The digital travel identity proof of concept was outlined in an IATA paper which explains how a trusted digital identity credential can be created through a digital identity onboarding service provided by an issuer.

The issuer performs the necessary checks, including reading the ePassport chip through Near-Field Communication (NFC) to obtain biometric and biographic data, scanning the passenger’s face for a presentation attack and liveness detection, and biometric authentication during which the passport chip is matched with the person in possession of the phone (1:1 match).

IATA has also been working on digital identity standards based on W3C Verifiable Credentials (VC) and decentralized digital identity that could be interoperable between different stakeholders, such as airlines, travel agents, airports and governments. The organization has recently released alpha specifications for the W3C VC schema for passport, visa, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Digital Travel Authorization (DTA) for industry testing.

“Success, of course, is underpinned by interoperability and global standards—so the advantage of the digital travel conveniences are available to travelers throughout their journey and wherever it may take them,” says Careen.

How will shopping for flights look like with digital identities

With digital travel identities comes an opportunity to sell personalized services and goods to passengers. Travel retail and marketing company Amadeus, a partner of IATA, has presented a new product for personalizing travel offers that airlines can use to increase their revenues.

Amadeus Nevio will use Microsoft’s technology to package personalized offers that cover different steps of the journey. The products can include everything from family packages and luxury hotels to booking rent-a-cars or extra-legroom seats on flights.

Services can be added or removed in advance of a trip, with just a few clicks, Amadeus says in a release.

More biometric travel trials underway at Frankfurt Airport

Frankfurt Airport will allow all airlines to use face biometrics as identification from check-in to boarding the aircraft with the help of air transport communications and IT company SITA.

Frankfurt is the first airport in Europe to offer biometric touchpoints to all airline passengers by using SITA’s Smart Path biometric solution. The product relies on I:Delight digital identity management platform and facial recognition technology created by NEC, the company said in a release.

Passengers will be able to register through their mobile device using the Star Alliance biometric app or directly at the check-in kiosk with their biometric-enabled passports. They can then pass through the facial recognition-equipped checkpoints.

“Biometric touchpoints significantly speed up the mandatory steps in the airport, giving passengers more time to relax before the flight rather than waiting in line. We know from our research that where biometrics are introduced, more than 75 percent of passengers will gladly use them,” says David Lavorel, CEO of SITA.

The option was first launched in 2020 and is already in use by more than 12,000 passengers at check-in, boarding pass control, and boarding gates. The goal for the coming months is to equip at least 50 percent of all check-in kiosks, pre-security, and boarding gates with the new technology, according to Pierre Dominique Prümm, Fraport AG’s Executive Director of Aviation and Infrastructure.

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