Narita Airport, Amadeus and NEC introduce Japan’s first end-to-end biometric boarding process

Narita International Airport Corporation empowers passengers to pass from check-in to boarding using biometrics, eliminating the need to continually present passport and boarding pass

Check-in, passport checks and boarding using paper documents can be a frustrating and cumbersome process that contributes to airport congestion and many physical interactions. Fortunately, passengers at Narita Airport will soon be able to complete every step in the airport journey simply by presenting their face to a camera, thanks to a major roll-out of biometric technology from Amadeus and NEC Corporation.

ICM’s biometric Auto Bag Drop units at Narita Airport.

The new experience by Narita International Airport Corporation (NAA), sees passengers check-in at one of a number of new biometric kiosks where the passenger’s facial image is captured and verified against their passport. Once the verification process is done, luggage is dropped quickly and easily at an Auto Bag Drop (ABD) unit, with passengers automatically recognized by the camera embedded in the unit as they approach it.

Passing through security and boarding is straightforward: the passenger’s face is recognized when they first approach Narita’s security e-Gates and boarding e-Gates, both equipped with cameras that automatically validate the passenger’s identity and permission to fly. Again, passengers do not need to show any physical documents.

The new biometric process pioneered at Narita Airport is using the IATA One ID standard. Following successful trials with Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, it will be adopted as the new standard for all international departures.

ICM Airport Technics, an Amadeus company, supplied the kiosks and ABD units fitted with biometric cameras and application software, that work in conjunction with NEC’s facial recognition system.

Masato KITAGAWA, Manager Mechanical Systems Engineering Department, Narita International Airport Corporation says: “Everyone at Narita Airport is proud to have delivered Japan’s first end-to-end biometric departure process. Our passengers will benefit from a low-touch, automated experience that increases safety and convenience. Biometric technology is an incredibly powerful tool and key in addressing the challenges posed by COVID-19.”

Richard Dinkelmann, CEO, ICM Airport Technics, an Amadeus Company comments: “This has been an extremely rewarding project that sees NEC’s facial recognition software deployed on Amadeus’ market-leading hardware for the first time. We’ve worked very closely together in order to create a contactless boarding process and to deliver on the requirements of both Narita International Airport Corporation and the Japanese government.”

Takumi Otani, Project Manager 2nd City Infrastructure Solution Division, NEC Corporation adds: “This project shows that biometric technology is far more reliable, efficient and convenient than paper travel documents. We’ve enjoyed working with Amadeus as part of this important project to deliver a contactless boarding process. We look forward to collaborating further as we help more Japanese airports adopt the new One ID standard for biometric departures.”

The new service contributes to Narita Airport’s COVID-19 response by removing the need for passengers to have interpersonal interaction, whilst virtually eliminating the need to touch self-service hardware. The solution also reduces the time it takes to complete each airport checkpoint, helping Narita meet its social distancing objectives. Narita airport served approximately 45 million passengers in 2019 and is a major hub for airlines including Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways.

At Amadeus, ensuring seamless and secure end-to-end journeys for passengers is a key priority. That’s why Amadeus is developing solutions that leverage biometrics and the latest digital identity management technology to streamline the passenger experience at every touchpoint.