Global IT provider SITA and Hamad International Airport (HIA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) providing for a framework for the partners to enhance innovative passenger processing solutions at HIA.

The MoU was signed jointly by HIA Chief Operating Officer Engineer Badr Mohammed Al Meer and SITA President for Middle East, India and Africa Hani El-Assaad, at an event held inside HIA.

The predominant focus of the MoU is to advance HIA’s initiative to implement seamless identity management across all key passenger service points using biometrics. Trials will also be held to evaluate the effectiveness of robots for passenger facilitation; block-chain technology for rapid and secure sharing of data across stakeholders; and the potential use of augmented and virtual reality for operational concepts.

SITA will also be supplying and commissioning 62 of its next-generation commonly-use check-in kiosks, with bag tag printing capability. This will enhance passenger experience for self-service check-in and enable progressive deployment of self-service bag-drop facilities. SITA will be supplying and commissioning boarding pass verification e-gates which will be located prior to departures’ border control. These kiosks and e-gates will have the ability to use biometrics to identify passengers.

In line with HIA’s strategy, all systems that are being acquired/upgraded for passenger processing, such as check-in, bag drop, and aircraft boarding, are specified for integration with biometric sensors. Such capability will not only provide enhanced security oversight but will also hold tremendous potential to deliver a smooth end-to-end journey using a single biometric token.

HIA-SITA MoU Press Conference

The formalisation of this partnership follows the successful industry-first pilot of biometric exit checks conducted by SITA and HIA in 2016. These early trials, which used SITA’s Smart Path technology at HIA in collaboration with Qatar Airways, government security agencies and the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, have led to SITA optimising the technology and subsequently implementing the programme with major airports and airlines around the world.

A key benefit of SITA’s Smart Path technology is that it seamlessly integrates into existing commonly-use airport infrastructure and airline systems, allowing passengers to use biometrics each step of the way – doing away with the need to present travel documents beyond the first step in the journey.    

Engineer Badr Mohammed Al Meer said that HIA’s efforts towards innovation and its strategic alliances with key partners such as SITA, all contribute towards its ‘Smart Airport’ vision that was officially launched in May 2016. Their aim, according to him, is to empower passengers and allow them to experience a journey at their own pace.

The use of biometrics as the only verification required at each passenger touch point will go a long way in improving the flow of passengers, providing a better travel experience as well as greater operational visibility for the stakeholders. SITA has already demonstrated excellent capability and agility in pioneering and optimising biometric exit checks for the boarding process at HIA. We believe that such joint efforts will contribute to digital transformations across the air transport industry.’

SITA President Hani El-Assaad said they welcome the opportunity to work with a world-leading hub such as HIA to push the boundaries of innovation to truly change the way passengers will travel in the future.

Our vision to make air travel easier at every step fits neatly with the HIA’s ‘Smart Airport’ vision. Together we can help reshape the future of air transport.’

For more information about Hamad International Airport, visit their website at dohahamadairport.com.