Delhi Airport commences trial operation of automated immigration inspection gates

Delhi’s international airport on Thursday began a pilot programme to automate immigration clearance for passengers travelling out of the country through gates that will scrutinise them and their documents without any human intervention — a move the authorities hope will cut down travel time and address staffing issues. The facility, called the Trusted Travelers Program (TTP), has been designed on the lines of the US’s Global Entry Program, which allows pre-approved immigration clearance for low-risk travellers.

Experts, nonetheless, warned that with out correct consciousness, the power might result in congestion on the gates as a substitute. An officer involved in the process said on condition of anonymity that to get immigration clearance at the “e-gates”, passengers will need to scan their passports and boarding passes themselves. The initiative will likely be made totally operational in three phases. “After reading that the passport and the boarding pass are genuine, a camera attached to the scanner will click a picture of the passenger’s face. The passengers will also require recording their biometrics by scanning their fingerprints. Within seconds, this information will be matched with a database of the prohibited or blacklisted passengers. Once found cleared, the e-gates will open, allowing the passenger to proceed,” the officer said.

In the first session, the e-gates will be used by diplomats, government officials and foreign dignitaries. In the second session, it will be made available for all Indian passengers, and in the third, foreign passengers will be able to use the facility. The first session is likely to begin by March 2021, the official added. On average, the immigration clearance process currently takes about 1.5 minutes for a passenger at counters staffed by immigration officials at the Delhi airport. “This is the time taken at the counter, not inclusive of the time taken in the queue. With the e-gates in place, as manual intervention will be zero, a passenger will be able to gain immigration clearance within 30-40 seconds. Initially, there will be staff present to assist the passengers in the process,” the officer said. The passengers’ data will also be recorded with the bureau of immigration for future usage, he added.