While the project had been unveiled in early 2018, the first facial recognition tests took place this week of July 12, 2018 for some international flights departing from Sydney.

Australia is taking another step towards replacing passport controls with facial recognition. The most comprehensive biometric tests are beginning to be carried out by the Australian airline Qantas, in direct partnership with Sydney Airport. Only passengers travelling on certain international flights will be able to experiment with this technology for the time being.

Towards the end of paper passports?

“In the future, there will be no passports… Your face will be your passport and boarding pass at every stage of the process,” said Geoff Culbert, CEO of Sydney Airport. The latter seems certain that such a change is inevitable and that it is no longer possible to be satisfied with simple paper passports. This digitisation of identity can be seen as a means of preventing terrorism and maximising customs controls in order to reduce or even eliminate the possibility of an error.

At the same time, the aim is to automate check-in, boarding, baggage drop-off and lounge access. This would save considerable time for airports, airlines and passengers themselves. In addition, Qantas’ Director of Customer Relations, Vanessa Hudson, explains: “Qantas customers will be able to check in for their flights via this technology, which will also enable our teams in our lounges to offer more personalized customer experiences.

A techno to deploy over the long term

Of course, with 43 million passengers using Sydney Airport each year, the implementation of such technology does not happen overnight. It is therefore a heavy project and its consequences from a security or privacy point of view are not negligible. This makes some members of the government or large institutions skeptical. However, Sydney is not the only airport to try the experiment, Brisbane and Singapore are also carrying out tests to digitise themselves little by little.