Sacramento International Airport (SMF) will deploy Amadeus facial biometric technology at select boarding gates, starting 2 March 2023.

The technology will compare live photos to the traveller’s existing passport or visa photo in secure US Department of Homeland Security systems.

The airport hopes that the move will improve the safety and security of passengers and airport employees, while also making the screening process more efficient.

The facial biometrics process is voluntary for US citizens.

Initially, the Amadeus facial biometric technology will be deployed only for international flights.

SMF hopes the biometric screening will save time and reduce stress for travellers, as well as provide a secure, touchless departure process for identity verification.

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“We are thrilled to join the ranks of other leading airports in implementing biometric technology. This technology will save time and reduce stress for our travellers, and will provide a secure, touchless departure process for identity verification,” said Cindy Nichol, director of the Sacramento County Department of Airports.

“The deployment of Amadeus facial biometric technology is just one of the many ways we are working to make the travel experience as smooth and convenient as possible. The deployment of biometric technology is yet another way the airport is demonstrating its commitment to providing the highest level of customer service.”

Travellers who wish to opt out of the new biometric process may notify an airline official or a US Customs and Border Protection officer as they approach the departure gate. These travellers will be required to present a valid travel document for inspection by the gate agent and they will be processed consistent with existing requirements for departure from the US.

Betros Wakim, Amadeus SVP of Americas airport and airline operations, said: “Sacramento joins other leading airports in the US that are harnessing the unique qualities of facial biometric verification to enhance the passenger experience.

“At Amadeus, we are working with a growing number of airports and airlines to build biometric identity technology into different stages of the airport experience, from check-in to bag drop and also boarding. Where possible, we advocate for a cloud approach so different airlines can be easily integrated with an airport’s biometric infrastructure. Biometrics is poised to be one of the defining aviation trends of 2023.”

The deployment of the biometric screening will be done in phases, with the first set of 4 gates already operational, and the remaining gates to be installed in the future.

Last month a $1.3bn expansion plan for SMF was announced, with an aim to cope with the airport’s projected growth over the next seven years.