Heathrow to invest $62 million in facial recognition

The London airport plans to launch the world’s largest end-to-end biometric system shortening passenger’s journey by a third

London’s biggest airport, Heathrow, is about to undertake a biometric revolution. The airport has just announced plans to invest $62.2 million (£50 million) into a new end-to-end biometrics trial, bringing facial recognition to each stage of a departing passenger’s journey.

Heathrow will instal devices supporting facial recognition technology —Heathrow Airpot Heathrow to invest $62 million in facial recognition biometric
Heathrow will install devices supporting facial recognition technology — Heathrow Airport

The revolutionary technology will be a first for the UK’s only hub airport and will streamline the traveller’s journey through Heathrow from check-in to take-off — which could reduce the average time by up to a third.  

The airport will use facial recognition at check-in, bag drops, security lanes and boarding gates to create a seamless experience for travellers.

“As our passenger numbers continue to grow, we must look for innovative ways to make it easier and quicker for them to travel through Heathrow with choice, whilst keeping our airport secure,” said Heathrow customer relations and service director, Jonathan Coen.   

The new system should reduce the average passenger journey time by a third —Heathrow Airpot Heathrow to invest $62 million in facial recognition biometric
The new system should reduce the average passenger journey time by a third — Heathrow Airport

“Biometrics are key to helping us do that and we are really excited about the biggest roll out of this equipment at any UK airport.”

The move is a reaction to a new survey conducted by IATA which suggested that 64 per cent of passengers would share biometric information in exchange for a smoother journey.

“Facial biometrics are more accurate than manual checks and offer increased security, demonstrating how technology helps us without impacting on passenger experience,” the airport said.  

"Facial biometrics are more accurate than manual checks and offer increased security" —Heathrow Airport Heathrow to invest $62 million in facial recognition biometric
“Facial biometrics are more accurate than manual checks and offer increased security” — Heathrow Airport

The $62.2 million project is part of a wider programme of investment to streamline passenger journeys and, once complete, will mean that Heathrow will have the world’s largest deployment of biometric products.

“With this technology we’ll be able to offer passengers choice on how they travel through our airport, with colleagues on hand to guide passengers that require it.

“Biometric technology has been well received by our passengers so far and we’re looking forward to working with our colleagues and the airline community as part of our ongoing transformation at Heathrow, with a focus on enhancing passenger experience,” Coen added.