Aena, together with Vueling and the group of technology companies consisting of Easier, IDEMIA, Indra, Materna IPS and Mobbeel, has launched a facial recognition pilot programme for boarding at Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport. This is the first time in Europe that all the steps a passenger takes at an airport have been integrated into one process, and includes, for the first time, self bag drop. The goal is for passengers to be able to travel all the way to the plane without having to show any identification.
Based on an identification technology that recognises the physical and non-transferable characteristics of people, biometric devices have been installed in the check-in area, so that passengers can self-check-in their baggage; at the entrance to the security checkpoint; and at the boarding gate, where the passengers' biometric data, facial features (image of their face) and
documentation (DNI or passport) will be validated. This streamlines the process and enhances security, from the time a passenger registers online at home until they board their flight. The documents are validated with biometric data only once during the pilot project, as long as the passenger gives their consent for subsequent flights.
Aena is currently the sole owner of the biometric database, and is therefore responsible for its management, and the information collected is processed in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) contained in European Regulation 2016/679 on the processing of personal data and the free movement of such data.
Joint Vueling and Aena project
This collaborative project between Vueling and Aena began several months ago with the airline's passengers on the Barcelona-Malaga route. This is the most comprehensive pilot test being conducted at an Aena airport, since it incorporates biometric technology into 4 travel processes: check-in, luggage check-in, security checkpoint and boarding.
In order to access the plane using their face, the passenger has to open the Aena app, go into the "facial recognition" section and fill in the form. The registration can also be done physically at Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport in two kiosks opposite gate B35 and in the Vueling self-check-in area.
Participating passengers will have exclusive access at security checkpoints and the boarding gate on the Barcelona-Malaga route, thus benefiting from a smoother process. They will also have the option to leave their suitcase at the self bag drop by simply using facial recognition. Passengers can participate in this pilot programme voluntarily and travel more quickly, efficiently and without contact.
Aena's CGO and Director of Innovation, Sustainability and Customer Experience, Amparo Brea, stated that "this project, part of Aena's Strategic Innovation Plan, is the last step in a series of actions led by the company since early 2019 aimed at testing the use of biometric systems at different points in the airport. We are convinced that this technology will significantly improve the passenger experience at our airports, and these projects allow us to speed up its deployment. We provide passengers with tools that allow them to pre-empt part of the documentation checks currently carried out at the airport, so they can move through it more securely, smoothly and comfortably".
According to Calum Laming, Chief Customer Officer of Vueling, "being able to offer such a comprehensive biometric experience confirms our desire to improve our customers' experience at the airport, and it also makes for amuch more streamlined and modern customer flow. This is a highly technological project, a key element in Vueling Transform and in our digitisation strategy to improve our service, and to give customers more autonomy and flexibility in managing their travel experience". Vueling has thus become the first airline in Europe to offer a fully contactless travel experience thanks to the use of biometric technology.
Moreover, the companies responsible for developing, supplying and installing the devices needed to carry out the test relied on automated systems, which include advanced documentary and biometric validation technologies to reduce passenger access time. During this project, Indra was responsible for the platform that is used to integrate the various systems and devices that make up the solution.
Thanks to this platform, it is possible to collect identifying and biometric data at the enrolment and CUSS kiosks, security checkpoint and boarding gate, which is then processed and integrated with Aena's systems to ensure the proper operation of the solution as a whole.
The biometric self bag drop system from Materna IPS takes an image of the passenger and checks it in real time against the database of those enrolled in the biometric programme. This is used to confirm if that passenger is in the programme and, if so, to let them check their luggage by themselves on the spot. Materna IPS biometrics.
Easier integrated the biometric devices and associated middleware for passenger enrolment and verification at each control point, supplying dual units (common-use self-service kiosk and biometric registration on the same device), as well as electronic doors with the most accurate passenger uniqueness detection system, from the time they enter the security zone until they board.
For its part, IDEMIA will provide high-quality facial image capture in the enrolment kiosks, the airside access electronic door and the electronic boarding gate. Passengers will be identified using IDEMIA's biometric engine, recognised as one of the best in the market for its high accuracy. Mobbeel provides the mobile application that allows travellers to enrol their biometrics and verify their identity by scanning a DNI or passport with NFC and a proof-of-life selfie to ensure that the person is who they say they are. A pioneer in mobile biometrics, the company has been offering digital identity verification solutions for over 12 years.