Starting next year, passengers may no longer need their ID proofs, Aadhaar card or boarding pass for their air travel. The government Thursday unveiled the Digi Yatra initiative under which the flyers can soon use facial recognition technology to enter the airport.
Calling the initiative “forward-looking and futuristic,” Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said the facial recognition biometric facility will be available at major airports in the country soon. The system will be in addition to the current process and is not mandatory, Prabhu said. Only the interested passengers can opt for the biometrics-based digital processing system for passenger entry and related requirements at the airport. The Digi Yatra platform would be operational by February 2019, according to the ministry.
The technology will soon be operational at Bengaluru and Hyderabad airports. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) plans to roll out the initiative at Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune and Vijayawada airports by April next year, as per the ministry. Under the ‘digi yatra’ initiative, the civil aviation ministry is looking to make “boarding pass and security interactions” digital. The introduction of biometric self-boarding technology is aimed at transforming passenger experience and creating a future-ready airport.
Under the technology, there would be a centralised registration system for passengers and each of them would get a unique ID when they book the tickets. The ID can be created by sharing name, e-mail id, mobile number and details of any identity proof, including Aadhaar. Before travel, the airline would share the passenger data and the ID with the airport from where the passenger would be flying out.
There would be one-time verification at the departure airport while travelling for the first time using the ID. After successful verification, facial recognition biometric would be captured and stored in the Digi Yatra ID.
Earlier this month, Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) inked a pact with the Lisbon-based digital and biometric solutions services provider Vision-Box to implement the paperless air travel. The first phase of the rollout will be completed in the first quarter of 2019, with Jet Airways, Air Asia and SpiceJet passengers as the first users, Bangalore International Airport (BIAL) said in a release. The technology will identify passengers by their face as they move across the airport, avoiding stops and the repeated presentation of boarding passes, passports or other physical identity documents.