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APEX Insight: Over the next three years, 77% of airports and 71% of airlines are planning major programs or R&D in biometric ID management to smooth curb-to-gate passenger flow, according to SITA. But in order for implementation of airport biometric solutions to keep pace with the growth of air travel, collaboration between stakeholders is key.

At last week’s SITA Euro Air Transport IT Summit in Budapest, straplined “Aviation 5.0 – Are You Ready?”, the focus was on identity management and passenger flow, with emphasis on the role of biometrics and its potential to deliver a frictionless ‘walkthrough’ passenger experience whereby the cumbersome checkpoints encountered in most airports today will become consigned to the past.

“Secure and seamless travel is a must for the air transport industry. It is encouraging to see that both airlines and airports are investing in biometric technology to deliver a secure, paperless way to identify passengers across multiple steps of the journey. We have already seen great success where we have implemented it at airports across the world” said Barbara Dalibard, CEO, SITA, referring to implementations of SITA Smart Path technology.

SITA Smart Path uses biometrics as the single identification token at every step in the passenger journey and integrates into existing airport infrastructure and airline systems such as check-in kiosks, bag drop units, gates for secure access, boarding and automated border control, helping airlines and airports comply with the various regulations from governments and border agencies. Currently, the most common use of biometrics at airports is identity verification at self-service check-in kiosks – already in use at 41% of airports. SITA says that self-boarding gates using biometrics with ID documentation, such as a passport, will become ubiquitous over the next three years. Currently only 9% of airports have implemented this, according to SITA’s Air Transport IT Insights 2018 report, though around half expect to do so by 2021.

However, to realize the aspiration of a smooth biometrically enabled passenger journey through the airport – which is necessary to keep pace with the growth of air travel, on track to double by 2036 – stakeholder buy-in across the ecosystem is vital.

From the airport operator’s perspective, Christoph Schneider, Masterplanner at Munich Airport, pointed out that passengers have much higher expectations with regards to the provision of contextualized and personalized services: “No single travel stakeholder (airline, airports, hotels, agencies, corporations, etc.) has the capability to optimize end-to-end-journey experience on their own. All stakeholders want and need the data to provide relevant customer related service offers, but customer related data are fragmented in silos.” A framework is needed to share customer data between any of the parties, “with customers owning the data and consenting what is shared with who, in line with data privacy laws, in a secure controlled way and adhering to privacy concerns,” Schneider said.

 

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