Biometrics for Airport Clearance Get Push in Germany, US, Singapore, South Africa

By Ayang Macdonald

The use of biometrics and other automated systems for passenger and luggage management continues to gain steam at airports around the world, with reports showing developments by airlines and governments in several countries.

Biometrics soon to curb queues at South African airports

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), the government-run airports management body, has reiterated its plan to deploy a biometric passenger check system in all of the country’s airports, Travel News reports.

ACSA says the project, which is estimated to cost around 100 million South African rand (US$5.2 million), will help reduce queues as a result of people lining up for time-consuming physical clearance processes.. The OR Tambo and Cape Town airports have often been criticised for their delays in the manual handling of passport checks.

Robotics and artificial intelligence are at the core of the transformative project, ACSA Chief Information Officer, Mthokozisi Mncwabe, is quoted as saying.

The Department of Home Affairs is accompanying ACSA on the project which has been earmarked in the country’s 2023/2024 state budget.

Lufthansa introduces biometrics at Munich Airport Business Schengen lounge

Lufthansa has announced that business class travellers as well as frequent travellers with its airlines now have the possibility of accessing the Schengen lounge of the Munich Airport without having to present their boarding pass.

According to information on the airline’s website, passengers using Gate 28 to get to the lounge can do so via a facial recognition system put in place by Star Alliance. Star Alliance biometrics are provided through a partnership with NEC and SITA.

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To be able to use the biometric system, passengers are expected to register on the Miles & More app, 24 hours before departure. Their passport is required to complete the registration.

More biometric movement in Munich with autonomous bridge project

Also coming to Munich Airport is a pilot project for autonomous passenger boarding bridges, joining a growing array of biometrically enhanced systems in the German hub’s Terminal 2.

According to an article in Airline Routes and Ground Services, Dabico Airport Solutions Germany GmbH has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with the airport to determine requirements for autonomous operation of passenger boarding bridges. Dabico acquired passenger boarding bridge manufacturer FMT in January.

The LOI was signed on the occasion of inter airport Europe 2023, an international exhibition for airport equipment, technology, design and services being held in Munich.

Biometric ID verification, self bag drop at Detroit airport.

Spirit Airlines, in partnership with the Wayne County Airport Authority, has rolled out a biometric system at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport that facilitates passenger verification and allows them to check their bags without the help of an airport agent.

Per a press release, the machines installed at six units at the airport have the capability to match a scanned copy of a passenger’s travel document with their face for authentication.

The release explains the process which a passenger who has opted for the biometric system needs to follow, from when they scan their boarding pass, to when they have their bags checked and sent to the checked baggage section.

Singapore govt advances legal backing for airport biometrics

A bill that essentially seeks to allow Singapore to exercise a more flexible and modern border control system was recently moved for second reading by the country’s Minister for Information and Communications, Josephine Teo.

Among other things, the legislation proposes the use of biometrics and other automated systems, which will enable the country to easily and efficiently manage the high and growing volume of travellers and provide a positive clearance experience while ensuring security, a speech published by the Ministry of Home Affairs says.

According to Teo, to enhance the traveller experience at Changi Airport, the departure journey will be “biometric-enabled, end-to-end, from the first half of 2024.”

She adds that biometrics will be used “to create a single token of authentication that will be employed at various automated touchpoints, from bag-drop to immigration and boarding.”