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'All you need is your face': Here's how paperless travel could look in future

Jun 14 2019 06:00
Carin Smith

The International Air Transport Association has a vision to create an end-to-end passenger experience that is secure and seamless, using data and digital transformation to open borders and process passengers more efficiently. 

Iata’s ideal is "a paperless future where your face is all you need to travel around the world safely and securely", while your personal data is protected at the same time – the concept of One ID.

One biometric token

Using a single biometric token, a passenger’s identity would be verified through the various steps of the travel process. As a result, passengers would then be able to transit "from the curb to the gate" without ever having to show a paper passport or boarding pass, according to Nick Careen, who covers airport, passenger, cargo and security matters at Iata.

"This requires the use of biometric recognition technology and the collaborative and integrated identity management solutions to allow various stakeholders to exchange information," explained Careen.

Beat human trafficking

According to Iata, One ID would improve border, aviation and airport infrastructure security by reducing the chances for individuals to cross borders under a false identity. This would also help to combat human trafficking and other cross-border criminal activities.

For this to happen, it requires new global standards to facilitate collaboration between airports, airlines and governments when checking travellers’ identities, according to Careen.

A survey has indicated that 65% of passengers are willing to share personal data for an expedited airport experience.

At the same time, all stakeholders would need to adhere to privacy and data regulation applicable in their jurisdiction as securing data is paramount.

"Travellers already provide their biometric data to governments at border control. They may agree that airlines use those to facilitate their airport journey," said Careen.

Barriers to travel and capacity constraints are holding back growth, says Careen.

Emerging economies continue to be more open to travellers than advanced ones. South-East Asia, East Africa, the Caribbean and Oceania remain the most open areas, while Central and North Africa and North America are the most restrictive sub-regions.

Therefore, Iata wants to encourage governments to review their visa regimes and to remove travel restrictions.

For instance, there could be automated border control (ABC) systems that read ePassports. This would allow the processing of more passengers than the current system.

Smart Automated Border Control gates with integrated customs declarations also provide efficient alternatives.

Increased automation could include self check-in, bag drop, immigration and self-boarding.

Iata proposes that travel facilitation should be part of bilateral and regional trade negotiations.

The industry body is working on a case study to demonstrate the impact of visa relaxation on countries’ economies.

* Fin24 is a guest of Iata at its AGM.

iata  |  aviation  |  tech  |  airlines
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