The Biometric Automatic Passage System, which allows travelers to get in and out of Turkey by simply scanning their fingerprints at the airport, was launched at Istanbul's Atatürk Airport yesterday.
Fingerprint scanners already in use in other countries aim to cut long passport check lines and prevent the use of forged passports.
After a trial run at Atatürk Airport, authorities plan to introduce the system in other airports as well.
Four passport check points, two for arrivals and two for departures, allow passengers to spend only 15 seconds having their passports confirmed, rather than waiting in line.
Ahmed Fayed, who traveled to Madrid from Istanbul, became the first passenger to use his fingerprint at the checkpoint. Airport officials handed Fayed flowers at the launch of the system.
The number of fingerprint scanning points will reach to 24 by the end of 2016 if the system successfully concludes its trial run. The airport also plans to introduce facial recognition technology in the near future to further simplify bureaucratic procedures and boost airport security.
Tentatively named "e-gate," the system eliminates the need for the presence of police officers in the departure and arrival halls of the airport. Turkish citizens and just the frequent flyers among them are the only ones to currently benefit from e-gate.
Atatürk Airport is among the busiest in Turkey, attracting 57 million passengers in 2014 according to Bloomberg News, some 16 million lower than London's Heathrow that received 73.4 million travelers. It is also a major transit hub for connecting flights between Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
A study by Turkey's Middle East Technical University shows that Istanbul airports will host 118 million passengers per year in just two decades. Currently, Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen airports serve domestic and international flights, although a third airport is currently under construction on city's European side.
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