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Iberia Launches Facial Recognition Trial at Madrid Airport

The technology has the capability of identifying passengers even when they are wearing face masks

by Business Traveler

February 19, 2021

Spanish flag carrier Iberia has launched a trial of a biometric facial recognition for passenger identification at Madrid airport. The pilot project was developed in partnership with Spain’s airports authority, IT company Inetum, and biometric technologies provider Thales.

Iberia says the technology includes the use of “tablet-type mobile equipment” to enable a limited number of units to cover a large number of flights to different destinations. The technology also has “improved detection capabilities, making it possible to identify passengers even when they are wearing face masks,” according to the airline.

The organizations have formed a consortium, supported by Spain’s industrial technology development agency CDTI, to investigate “new ways to operate in the air travel industry with the new health measures imposed since the COVID-19 outbreak.”

The pandemic has given new impetus to biometric technology at airports because of the need to reduce human interaction at check-in and immigration.

Earlier this month, Delta Air Lines launched a pilot program using facial recognition at the carrier’s Detroit hub for selected customers on domestic flights. The initiative builds on Delta’s existing biometric options for customers, including the launch of its “end-to-end biometric terminal” at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport in 2018.

In October, Emirates launched an integrated ‘biometric path’ at Dubai International,  enabling customers to experience a contactless travel journey through the airport.