APEXInsight: Over the next three years, 77% of airports and 71% of airlines areplanning major programs or R&D in biometric ID management to smooth curb-to-gatepassenger flow, according to SITA. But in order for implementation of airportbiometric solutions to keep pace with the growth of air travel, collaborationbetween stakeholders is key.

At last week’s SITA Euro Air Transport IT Summit inBudapest, straplined “Aviation 5.0 – Are You Ready?”, the focus was on identitymanagement and passenger flow, with emphasis on the role of biometrics and itspotential to deliver a frictionless ‘walkthrough’ passenger experience wherebythe cumbersome checkpoints encountered in most airports today will becomeconsigned to the past.

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

SITA Smart Path uses biometrics as the singleidentification token at every step in the passenger journey and integrates intoexisting 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 fromgovernments and border agencies. Currently, the most common use of biometricsat airports is identity verification at self-service check-in kiosks – alreadyin use at 41% of airports. SITA says that self-boarding gates using biometricswith ID documentation, such as a passport, will become ubiquitous over the nextthree years. Currently only 9% of airports have implemented this, according to SITA’s Air Transport IT Insights 2018 report, though aroundhalf expect to do so by 2021.

However, to realize the aspiration of a smoothbiometrically enabled passenger journey through the airport – which isnecessary to keep pace with the growth of air travel, on track to double by2036 – stakeholder buy-in across the ecosystem is vital.

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

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