Abu Dhabi Airports introduces facial recognition

Abu Dhabi Airports is introducing a new biometric system throughout the airport.

The new system uses facial recognition and it means that the passenger’s face is used throughout the airport as ID instead of a passport.

The plan is to use the biometric system for all passenger checks at the airport from the time they arrive to the time they board their flight.

The technology uses smart cameras to capture an image of the passenger’s face and confirms whether they are cleared to travel. The same information is then used prior to boarding, avoiding the need to present documents again.

The passenger’s biometrics are compared with those on file [Image: Abu Dhabi Airport]

Major General Suhail Saeed Al Khaili, Director General of the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security:

“This advanced technology provides a smooth passenger customer journey, by leveraging biometric data records, which will enable travellers at Abu Dhabi International Airport to check in, clear immigration, access lounges and board their flights using only biometric data, without the need to present passports or boarding passes”.

The system will be implemented gradually, starting with Etihad Airways flights to the US.

The first phase is currently being tested at Abu Dhabi’s United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility in the airport. That allows passengers to clear US immigration before the flight and makes the arrival process a bit more pleasant.

The move comes ahead of Etihad increasing flights to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York from four to 11 flights a week from November 15. Passengers leaving JFK for Abu Dhabi can also use biometric boarding.

Mohammad Al Bulooki, Group Chief Operations Officer, Etihad Aviation Group:

“This innovation is an important next step in Etihad’s self-service journey. It means Etihad’s US flights become even more streamlined, on top of the benefit of arriving as a US domestic passenger without the need for further delays. This is a showcase of Abu Dhabi’s progress in the expanding field of biometrics, making the journey easier for guests while maintaining stringent security.”


This system comes from Abu Dhabi tech-based company, NEXT50. Cameras are from NEC. Abu Dhabi Airports is paying for the whole system.

Ibrahim Al Mannaee, Chief Executive Officer of NEXT50:

“We are committed to supporting the realisation of Abu Dhabi’s vision by deploying cutting edge technologies in the aviation industry. The biometric implementation is a testament to our promise to work hand-in-hand with AD Airports, Etihad Airways, and key partners to enable Abu Dhabi International (AUH) to become the most technology enabled airport in the region. The deployment of the innovative biometric solution facilitated by NEXT50 on US flights seeks to deliver a seamless passenger experience to customers”.

Internet links

Etihad Airways (EY)

Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)