October 7, 2022

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Star Alliance, the world’s largest airline alliance, wants roughly half of its 26 members to use biometric technology by 2025 as passenger demand for contactless travel and post-COVID-19 airport congestion soar.

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By increasing the number of airport touchpoints where passengers can use biometric technologies such as face matching, which allows someone to use their face as a boarding pass, Star Alliance hopes to reduce processing time through airport security, baggage drop, boarding gates and waiting rooms.

The group wants 12 to 15 airlines, or about double the current number, to either use its biometric strategy or ensure interoperability, said Christian Draeger, vice president of customer experience.

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In addition to airlines, Star Alliance also hopes that the four European airports participating in its biometrics program will add additional points of contact as well as increase the number of participating airports.

“We definitely need to aim for the participation of half of our carriers,” he said. “But at the same time, we also need to increase the network of participating airports.”

This is the first time the alliance, which coordinates services and projects such as digital infrastructure for members, has set a specific goal, Draeger told Reuters.

Air travel industry movement

While this goal is not mandatory, it echoes private sector efforts to verify identity in dedicated lanes in front of security checkpoints. Companies such as Clear Secure allow passengers with paid airport memberships to use their biometric technologies in place of travel IDs.

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It comes as global experts in Montreal discuss the greater use of biometrics to securely replace conventional travel documents at a United Nations aviation symposium that concludes on Thursday.

The United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) sets standards in everything from runway markings to air crash investigations, which are routinely accepted by its 193 member countries.

But the use of biometrics in travel varies by region due to different privacy regulations and a lack of technical knowledge in some countries, making it difficult to adopt the technology.

Over the next three years, 38% of airports plan to implement a single facial biometric token that will escort passengers through all security checkpoints, up from 3% a year ago, according to a 2021 report by an air transport communications and information technology specialist. SITA.

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United Airlines, a Star Alliance member, said it is looking at ways to make travel easier by using biometrics at multiple locations throughout the airport.

Other uses for biometrics to facilitate travel have expanded over time. About 80% of ICAO States currently issue ePassports, which were launched in 2004 and have secure traveler photo chips, said Christiane DerMarkar, ICAO Traveler Identification Program Technical Officer, who spoke at the symposium.

Draeger expects that when at least half of the travelers use biometric data, “significant benefits can be seen.”

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