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Etihad Going The Biometric Way

Izzat Haziq

The United Arab Emirates flag carrier teams up with SITA in testing facial biometric systems for their cabin crews.

(Photo: FB @Etihad Airways)

Public health and safety remains crucial in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with regards to how we travel. With the concerns surrounding air travel during these times, many airline companies have taken it upon themselves to maintain a safe environment and minimise the risk of infection.

Most recently, Etihad Airways has partnered with information technology company SITA, for a trial run of facial biometrics at Abu Dhabi International Airport. The United Arab Emirates flag carrier is testing the facial biometrics for cabin crew identification and authentication.

This facilitates cabin crew members in undergoing check-in procedures, while going through mandatory pre-flight safety questions digitally via their mobile devices. The move is beneficial in terms of reducing physical contact at checkpoints, which is important to abide by in times of the pandemic.

Currently, cabin crew members are required to use their staff identity cards for authentication during a kiosk-based check-in process. The trial run is looking at the possibility of replacing the current process with a more seamless and safe alternative for the check-in experience. Furthermore, the facial biometric technology is also in line with the airline’s digitalisation strategy, which is to improve operational efficiency by speeding up the existing check-in process, automating crew time and attendance management as well as access controls.

Captain Sulaiman Yaqoobi, Vice President Flight Operations, Etihad Aviation Group said, “Etihad is constantly on the lookout for innovative solutions and new technologies that will drive improvements in the airline’s operations and enhance the experience for guests and employees. Etihad is excited to partner with SITA to explore the potential that facial biometric services has for the aviation industry. By integrating contactless technology, biometric services will increase efficiency while simultaneously cementing our commitment to reducing the spread of COVID-19 by limiting physical touchpoints and maximising social distancing measures.”

Adding on to that, Roger Nakouzi, Vice President Sales, SITA said, “We are proud to partner with Etihad to design and implement a secure biometric system that offers a smarter and more efficient working environment for crew while solving a key operational challenge of the pandemic by reducing contact points. SITA has extensive experience in both mobile and biometric technology solutions having developed and implemented SITA Smart Path at airports globally, enabling a seamless, low touch passenger experience while increasing airport efficiencies.”

The trial is expected to be in place until February 2021. This entire exercise will provide Etihad Airways with invaluable data for an in-depth exploration of biometric technology that can be implemented in guest operations, such as check-in and boarding

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