Biometric screening for US preclearance passengers comes to Europe

Written by: Felicity Stredder |
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Shannon airport in the Republic of Ireland has become the first airport in Europe to introduce facial recognition technology for US preclearance passengers.

The biometric screening technology verifies passengers by matching their faces to their documents, which is hoped to enhance security while speeding up screening. Transatlantic passengers travelling through the airport will be able be able to join shorter security queues than at other airports, and airports in the US already using the technology have reported processing up to ten travellers per minute using the new technology.

The programme has already been successfully implemented in several US airports and was also extended to Aruba Airport in the Caribbean. The installation of the service is timely for Shannon, with the airport enjoying its busiest period on transatlantic operations for 17 years. Additionally, the biometric technology is another first for Shannon airport, which became the first airport in the world to operate a combined EU and US TSA checkpoint system back in 2016, halving the time spent in security screening at other preclearance airports.

Niall Maloney, Operations Director at Shannon airport, said: “Ultimately, the big gain here is that this the latest enhancement to passenger services at Shannon. We’re coming to the end of our busiest summer season on transatlantic since the early part of the last decade and anything that speeds up queues and enhances security is a major plus.”

Andrew Murphy, Managing Director, Shannon airport, also commented. “We are delighted that US Customs and Border Protection has selected Shannon for this pilot. We’ve had an excellent working relationship with them since Shannon, in 2009, became the first airport outside the Americas to have US preclearance. This means that we have the most efficient and reliable systems in place for passenger screening for the USA. That’s good for security but also very good for the passenger.”

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