At Delhi airport, automated immigration process at the anvil
Delhi International Airport on Thursday began a pilot program to automate immigration clearance for passengers traveling out of the country through gates that will examine them and their documents without any human intervention, a move that authorities hope will reduce the travel time and will address personnel issues.
The facility, called the Trusted Traveler Program (TTP), has been designed along the lines of the US Global Entry Program, which allows for pre-approved immigration clearance for low-risk travelers.
Experts, however, warned that without proper knowledge, the installation could lead to congestion at the doors. An official involved in the process said, on condition of anonymity, that to obtain immigration clearance at the “electronic gates,” passengers will have to scan their passports and boarding passes themselves.
“After reading that the passport and boarding pass are genuine, a camera connected to the scanner will click on an image of the passenger’s face. Passengers will also be required to register their biometric data by scanning their fingerprints. In seconds, this information will be compared to a database of banned or blacklisted passengers. Once they are clear, the electronic doors will open, allowing the passenger to continue, ”said the officer. An IB official, who asked not to be named, said: “Yes, there is a plan to have technology-based immigration centers, which tend to have long lines due to immigration labor shortages.”
On Thursday, a team of Interior Ministry officials visited the Indira Gandhi International Airport, where four such electronic gates have been installed on a trial basis for three months. Another official said that the initiative will be fully operational in three phases.
In the first phase, the electronic gates will be used by diplomats, government officials and foreign dignitaries. In the second phase, it will be available to all Indian passengers, and in the third, foreign passengers will be able to use the facility. The first phase is likely to begin in March 2021, the official added.
On average, the immigration clearance process currently takes around 1.5 minutes for a passenger at the counters manned by immigration officials at Delhi airport. “This is the time it takes at the counter, not including the time it takes in line. With the electronic gates in place, since manual intervention will be zero, a passenger will be able to obtain immigration clearance in 30-40 seconds. Initially, there will be personnel present to assist passengers in the process, ”said the officer. Passenger data will also be recorded with the immigration office for future use, he added.
However, aviation expert Mark D Martin said the concept works well at airports in Singapore, Dubai and European countries. He added that electronic gates for India at the moment are premature. “E-Gate is great for frequent fliers and airline crews, but offering such a service to a country that has a large diaspora of expatriate workers will be a nightmare, as dispatch time will exceed 10 minutes per passenger. …”, Martin. said.