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IOM and Japan back biometrics at Sri Lanka ports of entry

Selfie ID apps for Dominican, India, South Africa, Spain airports
IOM and Japan back biometrics at Sri Lanka ports of entry
 

Biometric technology use continues to grow at airports around the world. Air transport industry IT provider SITA predicts that by 2026, over half of check-ins and baggage drops will use biometrics, while 70 percent of airlines will have biometric ID management in place. Sri Lanka, South Africa, Spain, the Dominican Republic and India have been making their moves.

Japan provides grant to Sri Lanka for ABC gates

Japan will grant US$8.4 million to Sri Lanka to upgrade two of the country’s major points of entry, including investing in biometric access control systems and automated border control (ABC) gates equipped with facial recognition technology.

The biometric grant will be provided through the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and will help strengthen capacities at Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) and the Colombo Port, the largest and busiest port in Sri Lanka.

The grant aims to prepare the boarding crossings for future pandemics and health emergencies, reducing physical contact points and wait times. The Colombo Port Health Service and 25 Sri Lankan diplomatic missions will receive biometric enrollment workstations linked with the country’s immigration department to speed up passport issuance for Sri Lankans living overseas, according to local news site Adaderana.

Japan has also been involved with other infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka. The country’s Ambassador Mizukoshi Hideaki noted that due to its aging population, Japan will require high-quality caregivers which could present an opening for Sri Lanka.

In January, Shipping and Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva revealed that the country has been discussing funding with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and that the process would take around one year. The project was originally kick-started in 2017.

South Africa educating passengers on biometric gates

Airports Company South Africa’s (ACSA) plan to deploy biometric ABC gates in all of the country’s airports is well underway and is set to roll out in 2026, the government-run airport management body says.

The group has already started implementing the US$5.2 million biometric and digital identity project in phases. The plan includes implementing a unique passenger identifier One ID through self-enrolment on the ACSA app which uses facial recognition.

Some passengers, however, have been reluctant to use the system, trade publication Tourism Update reports.

“While the initial pilot project did not meet the expected throughput due to passenger anxiety and unfamiliarity, we are addressing this challenge through comprehensive passenger education,” an ACSA spokesperson says.

Idemia plans to supply its biometric passenger flow facilitation system, ID2Travel to three international and six domestic airports in South Africa by 2026.

Barcelona adds facial recognition airport shuttle service

Spanish air carrier Iberia unveiled a biometric boarding system that will be used at airports in Madrid and Barcelona as well as the air shuttle service linking the two cities.

The Madrid-Barajas Airport and Barcelona-El Prat Airport will allow passengers to undergo security screening and boarding using only facial recognition scans, without presenting mobile devices or documentation.

The service is available to members of Iberia Plus owning a Spanish ID card or an EU passport. Members can register through an app and create their profile by taking a selfie. Photos of identity documents will be stored on servers from airport operator AENA, according to Travel and Tour World.

Madrid Airport started piloting face biometric technology from Thales in 2021 to identify passengers using mobile devices. The project was carried out by AENA Airports Authority in a consortium with airline Iberia, systems integrator Inetum and Thales.

Dominican’s PUJ offers biometric passenger, baggage check-in

Punta Cana Airport (PUJ), the busiest airport in the Dominican Republic, officially opened

its expanded Terminal B which is now equipped with Smart Path biometric technology. The new facilities offer biometric passenger and baggage check-in, including a self-service kiosk and mobile app for biometric registration.

The airport currently serves more than 9 million passengers. With the US$90 million investment into the new terminal, the Caribbean country is expected to see over 11 million passengers annually passing through the airport.

Punta Cana International first deployed SITA ABC gates in 2018.

More airports in India roll out Digi Yatra

India’s airport biometric check-in and security clearance system Digi Yatra will likely be rolled out at 14 more airports in the country by the end of April, according to DigiYatra Foundation CEO Suresh Khadakbhav.

The foundation, which operates the Digi Yatra app, also plans to make its user experience smoother after travelers reported struggles to upload their boarding passes earlier this month. The app also suffered outages due to upgrades in March, according to The New Indian Express.

The facial recognition-based check-in system is currently used by 5 million passengers.

The new airports where Digi Yatra is set to be rolled out are Bagdogra, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Coimbatore, Dabolim, Indore, Mangalore, Patna, Raipur, Ranchi, Srinagar, Trivandrum and Vishakhapatnam.

Some airports are going further with their implementation of Digi Yatra. Bengaluru Airport, which introduced the system in 2022, is planning to roll out facial recognition payments and a digital assistant that will help passengers find their gates. The airport will also trial a biometric baggage check-in system.

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