By next April, passengers on domestic air routes will simply have to flash their smiles to board their flights at 6 airports in the country. Taking digitisation drive to another level, passengers’ smile will become their boarding pass for domestic flights at 2 airports i.e Hyderabad and Bengaluru by the end of February 2019 and 4 other airports Pune, Vijaywada, Varanasi and Kolkata will join the list by April 2019. “Passengers will be taken at face value” said Union Minister of Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu on Thursday while unveiling government’s ‘Digi Yatra’ project.
Aviation secretary R N Choubey said facial recognition system will be operational first for these 6 airports and based on the learnings gathered from the experience, it will be implemented across the country in a phased manner. Delhi and Mumbai airports are next in line to be equipped with this system. The other Airports Authority of India (AAI) airports will get the system under which hassle-free boarding of domestic flights will be a reality.
Flyers wanting to opt for voluntary DY service will need to generate a unique digi yatra ID by giving their details on aviation ministry portal and give this unique ID at the time of booking air tickets. On their first visit to the airport after getting a DY-number linked air ticket, flyers will have to furnish their ID credentials used to generate unique ID to get it verified. Those who are willing to share their Aadhaar details can complete the verification online. Once successfully verified, the photo of the flyer will be added to the corresponding DY profile in a secure central database.
According to the government, this move will accelerate the throughput of the passengers at airports, reduce the costs as lesser manpower will be required for verifying IDs and reduce the time flyer usually takes while completing the processes at the airport. The government also feels that this move will further accentuate the capacity augmentation of Indian airports. Union Minister Suresh Prabhu asserted that the facial data of passengers who opt for DY will be absolutely safe.
“A non-profit JV company will be formed with AAI and PPP airports as stakeholders. This company will own and secure the DY platform where flyers’ data will be saved. Airports opting for facial recognition will need to take data from this JV, where AAI will have less than 50% stake. The database of three places – DY platform, airlines, and airports – will talk to each other when a passenger uses DY at an airport,” Choubey said.
Jayant Sinha, junior aviation minister, said that they are deliberating on the timelines to see how much before a flight, passengers opting DY have to arrive at the airport. DY aims at reducing congestion at boarding gates and it will grant access to boarding gates only closer to departure time to passengers.