The Vancouver Airport Authority has utilized the world’s largest annual airport show in Dubai for launching the world’s first self-service border control solution in the Middle East region which is fast emerging as the 21st century’s new travel hub with a projected passenger volume of 450 million by 2020.
The Authority is as a star exhibitor of the North American (US and Canada) Pavilion at the 15th edition of Airport Show that has seen a total of 300 exhibitors from 40 countries and 8000 industry professionals participating from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region during the three-day B2B platform at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC).
Paul Mewett, Director of Innovative Travel Solutions at Vancouver Airport Authority, provided insights into the cutting-edge technology at the show’s Innovation Podium.
Christopher Gilliland, Manager for Innovative Travel Solutions at Vancouver Airport Authority, said more than 650 kiosks are operating in 23 major international airports in Canada, the US and the Caribbean. Over 25 million travellers have benefited from the cutting-edge technology that made its first appearance at the Vancouver airport about five years ago.
Vancouver (YVR) is among the Top 20 airports in Canada for passengers’ volume which in 2014 stood at a record 19.36 million, an impressive 7.7 per cent increase over 2013. It was ranked number one airport in North America for the sixth consecutive year by Skytrax World Airport Awards in Barcelona early this year. It also ranked 11th among the best airports in the world, and YVR was ranked as the top airport in the world in its size category (10 to 20 million annual passengers).
BorderExpress is designed to reduce wait times for every traveller – not just a select few. The solution accepts all passports, without any fees or prior registration requirements, to expedite the processing and reduce border control wait times by up to 50 per cent. Vancouver Airport Authority is the largest provider of non-registered self-service border solutions.
BorderXpress automates the administrative functions of border control with two simple steps. Travellers complete the data-entry function themselves using an intuitive, touch-screen kiosk, and officers then verify the documents for final admission.
The kiosk and software sends collected information and biometrics via encrypted transfer to border control agency which assesses the data and returns a response. With quicker processing time and higher throughput, airports require 50 per cent less space for queuing.
At the kiosks, the passengers can scan their own passports, capture biometrics such as fingerprints and Iris, take own picture and provide answers to all declaration questions.
The passenger’s information is sent automatically to a government authority for review and within seconds there is a response, along with a receipt. The passengers then show the receipts along with the passports to border officers. The kiosks have the capacity to recognize 38 passports at a time.
The passengers’ response to the technology has been “fantastic” as it eliminates hassle and stress from the airport journeys. This also replaces the need to fill in the customs forms.
“Our solution can be configured to meet the immigration needs of virtually any government in the world,” he said. The kiosk accepts any machine readable travel document such as residency cards, passports, driving licenses and visas. It also accepts debit and credit cards and other tap- and-go payments from travelers for visa fees, excess duty payment and departure taxes.
He added: “We have completed tapping of the North American markets and are looking at the Middle East region in general and GCC states in particular. This is an important market for us for the future and the local response to the travel solution has been good.”
The UAE airports handled 101 million passengers in 2014 with the share of Dubai International Airport alone being 71 million. This year, the world’s number one airport for international passengers is expected to handle close to 80 million passengers.
Aviation and border control authorities in the UAE, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are investing massively for seamless travel facilitation. Dubai Airport now boasts of Smart Gate and APIS.