Abu Dhabi airport to use biometric data instead of passports and boarding passes

Passengers' faces will replace travel documents once initiative is complete

Currently, biometric data is used at e-gates at Abu Dhabi airport but passengers must still present their passport. Photo: Next50
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A technology company in Abu Dhabi is working to make passengers' airport experience fully contactless.

Next50 said the first phase of its Smart Path project was under way and would eventually result in passengers using biometric data, such as face scans, in place of boarding passes, passports and any other documents required to fly.

The project is being carried out in collaboration with a French identity-related security services company named Idemia, and Swiss aviation IT company Sita.

Next50 uses artificial intelligence and next-generation biometric technology that will initially be employed at various 'touchpoints' across the airport.

These include self-service baggage counters, electronic immigration gates and boarding gates.

The technology will eventually be used at all touchpoints, eliminating the need to exchange boarding passes and passports with staff.

Currently, biometric data is used at e-gates at Abu Dhabi airport but passengers must still present their passport.

“We are excited to be leading the biometrics project at the UAE capital’s state-of-the-art international airport as part of the emirate’s digital transformation vision,” said Next50 chief executive Ibrahim Al Mannaee.

“Once the project is fully realised, the airport will be the only airport in the region with biometric solutions implemented across all customer touchpoints, contributing to Abu Dhabi Airport’s vision to become the operator of the most technology-driven airport in the world, providing a seamless journey to all its passengers.

“We are proud to be joining forces with Idemia and Sita, and offering our expertise in artificial intelligence and data sciences to make this initiative a reality.”

Once the project is completed, passengers will have a completely contactless “kerb to gate” journey through the airport, reducing wait times and shortening queues.

Initiatives such as these have been fast-tracked since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, which prompted companies to search for contactless alternatives to daily tasks.

“The airport of the future will be driven by technology that enables safe, seamless and easy travel every step of the way,” said Hani El Assaad, Sita's Middle East and Africa president.

“This latest deployment showcases the power of Smart Path to deliver a fluid journey where a passenger’s face becomes their boarding pass, from check-in to boarding.”

Updated: December 20, 2022, 5:29 AM