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Biometrics reach more airports as aviation industry tries to thread the AI needle

Deployments in US, Curacao, India, timing concerns in EU
Biometrics reach more airports as aviation industry tries to thread the AI needle

The aviation industry is gathering for one of it’s biggest events of the year, and biometrics and AI are prominent on the agenda.

“Data and AI are fantastic levers for the aviation sector,” Julie Pozzi, the head of data science and AI at Air France-KLM, told France24, ahead of the 80th annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) this week in Dubai.

There are many examples of AI being deployed to improve airport experiences. Groupe ADP, an airport operator, is deploying voice biometrics from AlloBrain to handle incoming airport calls. Alban Negret, the head of ADP’s innovation division, reports a reduction in unanswered calls from 50 percent to 10 percent.

Additionally, security companies are leveraging facial recognition to streamline airport security processes. A consultant from Oliver Wyman’s Transportation and Services practice suggests that there is potential for further improvement by utilizing facial recognition for airport security.

Facial recognition for digital identification is gaining popularity in providing a contactless airport experience. According to the IATA’s Global Passenger Survey for 2023, 75 percent of passengers prefer biometrics over traditional passports and boarding passes. Travelers often choose to share their personal details when clear benefits are presented, IATA says, such as an improved travel experience.

However, there is an ongoing debate regarding the privacy of biometric data, as pointed out by Vision-Box Founder and CEO Miguel Leitmann in a blog post for Vision-Box parent Amadeus. An open architecture is utilized to share travelers’ biometric data, extending beyond government jurisdictions to private third parties in a manner that complies with privacy and data-sharing regulations.

The travel experience includes various components: trip booking, airport travel, and check-in processes. As these interactions between customers and service providers increase, companies and organizations want a better understanding of service delivery and customer relations, known as service design. Biometrics are crucial in service design, Leitmann says, as they offer additional operational savings and benefits that airlines or ground handlers can leverage.

Vision-Box sees face biometrics as a key tool for enhancing the airport experience to accommodate increasing passenger numbers.

PreCheck and CAT machines reach more US airports

New biometrics deployments have been announced at three American airports, meanwhile.

San Diego now joins the 13 United States airports with a place where passengers can apply for TSA PreCheck. While it is possible to apply for membership in the TSA PreCheck program online, including for renewals, the in-person process provides additional assistance, according to a spokesperson from Clear, as reported by The San Diego Union Tribune.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has implemented Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) units, supplied by Idemia, at Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) and Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport security checkpoints.

The biometric CAT-2 units, the second generation of Credential Authentication Technology, can authenticate more than 2,500 different types of IDs, TSA says.

Launches in Curacao, India and concerns about readiness in EU

An Entry/Exit System (EES) has been a topic of debate but is scheduled to be implemented in the EU’s travel regulations this October. Under this system, biometric data such as fingerprints, facial scans, and passport information will be collected for non-EU travelers who do not require a visa.

Several airlines have expressed concerns regarding last-minute ticket sales in relation to the Advanced Passenger Information (API) requirements, which will become more stringent once the EES is in place.

The deadline for providing this information is expected to be up to 48 hours before departure.

“We remain deeply concerned that issues remain unaddressed that will hamper the seamless introduction of the EES this summer,” says industry group Airlines for Europe (A4E).

A4E and IATA sent a letter to EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson in May outlining their concerns.

In the Caribbean, a pre-verification mobile application for travelers’ biometric data will be introduced in Curaçao by the end of June. This initiative results from a collaboration between the Ministry of Justice, Curaçao Airport Holding, and technology partners such as Airside and Vision-Box.

The biometric application allows passengers to pre-register and verify their biometric data and passports before they arrive in Curaçao. Shalton Hato, a minister responsible for this development, stated, “With this innovative application, we demonstrate our commitment to enhancing services and security for our travelers.”

In India, the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) has deployed a biometric self-bag drop system at Kempegowda International Airport, the Bangalore Mirror reports. With the help of the Digi Yatra mobile application, domestic passengers can easily move through the airport by using face-scan biometrics, eliminating the requirement for boarding passes or other self-identification documents.

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