Facial recognition biometric in airports soon

Digi Yatra is a biometrics-based digital processing system for passenger entry and related requirements at the airport and is ‘purely voluntary’.

Facial recognition biometric in airports soon

Civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu (Photo: Twitter/@sureshpprabhu)

Travellers will soon be able to enter airports in the country with facial recognition biometric under the government’s Digi Yatra initiative. Civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu said the initiative would be “forward-looking and futuristic” and would be launched soon.

He said facial recognition biometric feature would be optional for air passengers. Digi Yatra initiative seeks to promote paperless and hassle-free air travel.

It is a biometrics-based digital processing system for passenger entry and related requirements at the airport. The Digi Yatra central platform would be operational by end of February 2019. Bengaluru and Hyderabad airports would be ready for Digi Yatra implementation on a pilot basis by the same time.


The Airports Authority of India (AAI) plans to roll out the initiative at Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune and Vijayawada airports by April next year, as per the ministry. Under Digi Yatra, there would be a centralised registration system for passengers and each of them would get a unique ID.

The ID would be shared by passengers at the time of booking tickets. The ID can be created by sharing name, email id, mobile number and details of any identity proof, including Aadhaar.

Before travel, the airline would share the passenger data and the ID with the airport from where the passenger would be flying out. There would be one-time verification at the departure airport while travelling for the first time using the ID.

After successful verification, facial biometric recognition would be captured and stored in the Digi Yatra ID. A registered passenger can go to the e-gate of the airport and scan the bar code/ QR code of the ticket.

The system would also generate a token combining the face of a passenger with PNR of the ticket so that at subsequent checkpoints the ticket details would be available on face recognition. Civil aviation secretary R N Choubey said e-gates would replace “all human interface points except at the point of security check.

The physical security check will remain.” Passengers would not have to pay for this facility, he said, adding that the ministry plans to roll out Digi Yatra at all airports in a phased manner.

A not-for-profit company would be set up with the AAI and private airport operators as stakeholders. The enrolment for Digi Yatra would be done by this company.

Minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha said data privacy would be ensured with respect to Digi Yatra and made it clear that there would not be any profiling of passengers.

After completion of a trip by a passenger, the particular transaction details are purged from the system, he noted. Through Digi Yatra, the ministry said, airports would have the possibility of providing innovative services and consent-based targeted services in the future.


With inputs from PTI