Airports push for Aadhaar-enabled entry

Bengaluru, Hyderabad airports have already implemented Aadhaar-enabled entry, while Baroda and Vijayawada airports are likely to start soon


Airports are also keeping manual checking as a fallback option if systems fail or passengers are not ready. Photo: HT
Airports are also keeping manual checking as a fallback option if systems fail or passengers are not ready. Photo: HT

New Delhi: Airports are pushing for Aadhaar-enabled entry to improve security and increase passenger throughput as air traffic peaks across India. Currently, most passengers have to show their printed or mobile air tickets and a government identity card to enter airports.

Airports of Bengaluru and Hyderabad, which have surpassed the capacities for which they were built on the back of double-digit growth, are using Aadhaar-based entry in coordination with airlines through a process called e-boarding. The airports are using the manual procedures as back-up options. Airports Authority of India’s Baroda and Vijayawada airports are also likely to use similar technology soon.

At Hyderabad, most domestic airlines use e-boarding, with at least 150 flights using the technology.

“E-boarding has improved the passenger throughput outcome at the boarding gates by 30% and performance of the security frisking area by 20%,” said a Hyderabad airport spokesperson in an email.

This is due to the fact that the two-lane automated e-gate has replaced a single-lane manual scan channel and automatic scan of the boarding pass has improved time over manual reading.

Currently, the Hyderabad airport system uses Aadhaar verification only at the terminal entrance to establish the identity of the passengers, but if airlines are able to provide the passenger’s Aadhaar number along with the ticketing information, the system is fully capable of using Aadhaar as a single document/identity for terminal entry and a boarding card replacement.

Similarly, at the Bengaluru airport, the Aadhaar-based process enables a passenger to be verified in under 5 seconds at every checkpoint right up to the boarding gate, completing the screening process in 10 minutes, compared with the average 25 minutes. This helps more passengers enter through the same gate.

“Traditionally, as passenger numbers grow, the various security checkpoints are increased. With biometric entry, we are creating a quicker throughput of passenger flow and enhancing experience,” said a Bengaluru Airport spokesperson.

Airports are also keeping manual checking as a fallback option in case systems fail or passengers are not ready. They are also looking at additional identification options, including passport/PAN numbers, as the process evolves.

Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Goa, Lucknow and Kozhikode are among the worst-hit airports in the country with India’s air traffic touching nearly 100 million air passengers in 2016, growing in double digits, Mint reported.

However, evolving this process requires high-speed and real-time access to the Aadhaar database.

“Based on our request and recommendation of the Civil Aviation Ministry, UIDAI has now agreed to permit Airport Operators to enrol as Authentication User Agency (AUA)/e-KYC User Agency (KUA), which would enable us to establish robust and speedy connectivity to the Aadhaar database and roll out the services for full-scale use at the airport,” the Hyderabad Airport spokesperson said. “With necessary amendments now in place, we expect the process to conclude in the next few weeks.”

The government has already said it expects the DigiYatra project to be up soon.

Jayant Sinha, minister of state for civil aviation, said last week that the ministry has set up a working group for DigiYatra, a plan to introduce a paper-less process which could be rolled out in a few months. “Your payment is digital, your boarding and security interactions are digital... That is the DigiYatra concept we are working on. We have a working group established and we are very hopeful of rolling out some of these in the next few months,” Sinha said.

“The whole experience would be completely digital so that you wouldn’t need any paper and be able to book your car to the airport, get into the airport, get a digital boarding pass, board your aircraft, take a car back and do all of that just with your phone,” he added.

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