UAE flights: Sharjah airport to roll out facial recognition for travellers this year

New technologies are being introduced across the country to create a smoother, more seamless journey for passengers

by

Waheed Abbas

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Wam file photo
Wam file photo

Published: Wed 1 Mar 2023, 4:08 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Mar 2023, 8:33 PM

Sharjah Airport is working on the final phase of the biometric technology which will allow passengers to use facial recognition.

“We have completed 50 per cent of the facial recognition project and it is in the final phase of integration with the immigration and airline systems. We expect to roll out face recognition in the fourth quarter of 2023,” Sheikh Faisal bin Saoud Al Qassimi, director of Sharjah Airport Authority, told Khaleej Times in an interview on Wednesday.


The UAE airports have been making major investments to update their systems and introduce technologies that make travel smoother, seamless, and touchless.

In November 2022, Abu Dhabi Airports announced that it was gearing up to launch new technology that would use passengers’ facial features as passports. The technology would be rolled out gradually, and its first phase was being tested at the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport.


In 2022, Sharjah Airport’s passenger traffic grew 84.73 per cent to over 13 million passengers, reaching closer to the pre-pandemic level of 13.6 million in 2019. Meanwhile, aircraft movement also experienced an increase of 51.69 per cent to 87,495 flights in 2022, as compared to 57,679 by the end of 2021.

“We anticipate a further five per cent increase (in passenger traffic by end of this year,” said Ali Salim Al Midfa, chairman of Sharjah Airport Authority.

“We have accomplished a remarkable point, by reaching the previous records before the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said after an event held on Wednesday to recognise the valuable contributions of its media and strategic partners.

“We are committed to the UAE announcement of marking 2023 as the ‘Year of Sustainability’ and we look forward to a stronger collaboration with all our strategic partners so we can reach together a higher standard of economic and environmental sustainability and global accreditation,” Al Midfa said.

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Sheikh Faisal said Sharjah airport and the aviation sector recovered faster than expected after the pandemic.

“When Covid-19 started, we anticipated recovery will take five to six years. But with the clear vision of our government, we’ve achieved over 13 million passenger traffic in 2022,” he said.

He expects Sharjah to attract five passenger airlines and a similar number of freighters this year.

Sheikh Faisal added that Sharjah-headquartered Air Arabia will also expand its new routes which will drive the growth of the emirate’s airport this year.


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