Passengers travelling from Delhi, Varanasi and Bengaluru will be able to use their face as a boarding pass from December 1 to enter these airports, to access the security check area and enter the boarding gate. Travellers will have to mandatorily provide their Aadhaar details to avail themselves of this service.
The technology, however, is not available at airline check-in counters at the moment and is expected to be introduced at a later stage, said airport sources.
Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia launched the technological initiative, called “Digi Yatra”, at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on Thursday.
The initiative is also expected to be operational at Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune and Vijayawada by March 2023, and then gradually across various airports in the country.
The service is voluntary in nature, and is currently available only for domestic flights. At the Delhi airport, for instance, it will be available only at one airport entry gate at Terminal 3, one security-check lane and two boarding gates.
How to use the Digi Yatra app
According to the Digi Yatra process, a passenger will first be required to download the Digi Yatra app on his phone, register with an OTP received on the Aadhaar-linked mobile number, upload Aadhaar details and a photo followed by uploading the boarding pass for the upcoming travel.
This will now allow the passenger to enter the airport building after scanning the QR code on the digital boarding pass followed by a facial scan. Next, the passenger can gain access to the security area too with a mere face scan.
The passenger will have to continue to use the traditional method for check-in and baggage drop, which involves a digital or a paper boarding pass along with other identity documents.
Speaking about privacy concerns, Mr. Scindia said the passenger’s identity details and personally identifiable information (PII) would be stored in a secure wallet in the passenger’s phone itself, instead of a centralised storage system that was proposed earlier.
The uploaded data would utilise blockchain technology and all the data would be purged from the servers within 24 hours of use.
The Digi Yatra policy was unveiled in October 2018, and it was expected to be rolled out in March 2019. But there were delays, including due to COVID-19, said an official involved in the process.
Later, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had to revise tender norms and cut the cost of the technology involved, and decided to have the registration system on the user’s mobile phones instead of a centralised one hosted by the Digi Yatra Foundation, which includes the AAI and some private airports as its shareholders.
At the time of the launch of the policy in 2018, Aadhaar was not a mandatory requirement and passengers could provide any approved identity proof.