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Saudi Arabian Airport Modernization Plan Includes Biometric Identification System

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) is laying down a runway for biometric passenger processing through a new contract with SITA.

The contract entails a broad modernization effort across 26 airports in the country. Part of it, according to a statement announcing the deal, concerns the implementation of AirportConnect Open, a SITA platform aimed at interfacing between airports and airlines. According to SITA, the platform “provides future-proof infrastructure which will enable the implementation of cutting-edge solutions such as biometric single-token travel and common-use payment systems,” in addition to Wide Area Network and Local Area Network connectivity.

The effort to facilitate biometric passenger screening lines up with the Saudi government’s interest in biometric security more broadly, with authorities having implemented a biometric border security system in 2015, and a biometric SIM registration program the following year. It also reflects the ascent of biometric airport screening around the world, as biometric security and passenger processing systems continue to proliferate across more airports.

Other aspects of SITA’s modernization project for Saudi Arabia’s airports include a new baggage management system, the implementation of a “Flight Information Display System” and an “Airport Management” system, and a document verification system called iValidate, which has been implemented at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.

SITA did not disclose the financial terms of its airport modernization contract with GACA.