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A world class airport is about to ditch passports forever

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

What if boarding a plane was as easy as getting on a train? That’s Singapore’s plan …

 

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Traveling through one of the world’s best airports is set to get even smoother next year.
Starting in 2024, officials say Singapore’s Changi Airport will introduce automated immigration clearance, which will allow passengers to depart the city-state without passports, using only biometric data.

 

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“Singapore will be one of the first few countries in the world to introduce automated, passport-free immigration clearance,” Communications Minister Josephine Teo announced during a parliament session on Monday, during which several changes to the country’s Immigration Act were passed.

Biometric technology, along with facial recognition software, is already in use to some extent in Changi Airport at automated lanes at immigration checkpoints. But the upcoming changes will “reduce the need for passengers to repeatedly present their travel documents at touch points and allow for more seamless and convenient processing,” Teo said.

 

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Biometrics will be used to create a “single token of authentication” that will be employed at various automated touch points – from bag drops to immigration clearance and boarding – eliminating the need for physical travel documents like boarding passes and passports. But passports will still be required for many countries outside of Singapore that do not offer passport-free clearance, Teo stressed.

Often ranked the world’s best airport and also one of the busiest, Singapore’s Changi Airport serves more than 100 airlines that fly to 400 cities in around 100 countries and territories worldwide.

 

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It handled 5.12 million passenger movements in June, crossing the 5 million mark for the first time since January 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, and the airport is a destination in itself with currently has four terminals expanding to five in the near future to cater to the growing number of travelers.

Changi Airport is projecting a return to pre-pandemic levels of passenger and air traffic and expressed hopes that the upcoming biometric system will help make passenger flows smoother.

“Our immigration systems must be able to manage this high and growing volume of travellers efficiently and provide a positive clearance experience, while ensuring our security,” Teo said.

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