Thursday, May 04, 2017

Soon, you may enter airports without ID, check in with Aadhaar

The civil aviation ministry, which has for long toyed with the idea of a biometric identification system at airports, is close to rolling it out. Similar to marquee airports such as Schiphol (Amsterdam), Brisbane and Hamad (Doha), travellers could soon enter Indian airports without flashing their identity cards and clear the check-in process through fingerprint and iris scan.

To make this happen, the ministry has asked software giant Wipro to study the prospect of building an integrated platform that will use a passenger’s Aadhaar-based biometric information for the check-in process across all airports. The idea, officials said, was to cut down the time a passenger spends in airport queues. In a small way, the process has already been tried — at a few gates of the GMR-owned Hyderabad airport. The Bengaluru airport, which is owned by the Fairfax and GVK group, is also using biometric information-enabled checking points for swift check-ins.

“Wipro has been told to study whether such an integrated, e-enabled platform can be developed so that all airports can use the database to enable the biometric entry facility across Indian airports,” Airports Authority of India (AAI) Chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra told Business Standard.

The decision was taken after Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha’s meeting with operators of all privately owned airports such as New Delhi and Mumbai.

Wipro is likely to give a feasibility report within a month, it is learnt.

Senior ministry officials said, as part of the process, Aadhaar numbers could be made mandatory for passengers to book flight tickets.

“Linking Aadhaar numbers to air ticket bookings is certainly an option but the ministry will not make it mandatory for booking air tickets; we cannot do it. We can ask airport operators and airlines to inform passengers about its benefits, but it cannot be enforced now, according to Supreme Court guidelines,” said a ministry official. Airline companies have asked the ministry to make Aadhaar compulsory for booking tickets.
04/05/17 Arindam Majumder/Business Standard