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Single token air travel to be a reality in Oman?

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Muscat: Oman Airports has outlined a corporate roadmap for the implementation of a number of projects and initiatives as per the Corporate Strategy 2027 and Financial Capital’s roadmap, spanning 2023 – 2027.

In the short term, the strategy focuses on the Rollout of Phase 1 of the Single Token Journey Initiative, which is increasingly adopted by international airports around the world, the initiative seeks to offer a seamless travel experience by enabling passengers to pass through various checkpoints from check-in to boarding using their biometrics.

A ‘single-token’ digital identity will be created at check-in by matching a passenger’s biometrics and passport.

This improves the airport experience by reducing the need for repetitive travel document checks and queuing time.


What is a single token?

Several innovative airport projects are currently being undertaken to reduce repetitive identity checks and create a seamless flow through the reuse of a biometric token.

These projects may differ in the number of passenger facilitation steps incorporated, but all share the use of a single token established after one enrollment and identity check of the passenger and the reuse of that token through biometric identification.

This single token or 'One Identity' is going to be the key to creating a true end-to-end passenger facilitation process for all stakeholders at an airport.

However, to make this token future-proof and ready for global participation it will need to have a foundation in a trusted and secure standard. If we look at the definition of the end-to-end process of passenger facilitation, we quickly realize that with the available technology in biometrics from mobile enrollment to capture of biometrics on the go, we have to prepare for an end-to-end solution that will be an ever-evolving concept.

According to IATA, the single token concept means that a passenger's identity is verified and authenticated by matching their passport and their biometrics only once throughout a travel journey.

This can for example be done via a trusted and secure app on their smartphone or at an airport kiosk.

A single token is then established within a secure platform and the passenger's identity can be verified in the following steps at the airport via biometrics.

For example at Aruba Airport (a constituent country of the Netherlands physically located in the mid-south of the Caribbean), the Happy Flow single token system has been in place for some time.

A passenger enrolls in the Happy Flow single token process at the check-in kiosk.

The passport is authenticated and the biometrics of the passenger (face) are matched to the biometrics in the ePassport.

A picture of the passenger is then captured and stored in a personal data envelope that virtually travels with the passenger on the journey through the airport and is used to identify the passenger.

This means that after check-in/enrollment, the passenger can store his passport and use only their face to identify themselves at bag drop, access check/immigration (merged into one), and boarding.

The platform that facilitates the passenger data envelop is developed according to the 'privacy by design principle.

This means that the stakeholder using the system will only be able to retrieve from the system the information regarding the passenger that they are allowed to see and need to see for their operation.

The public-private cooperation is key to the success of Happy Flow.

It is the government that is responsible for the verification and authentication of the identity that forms the single token and the airport and airline reuse that by matching the biometrics of the passenger at the various steps of the passenger facilitation.

Preparing for the future (which is near) Aruba airport is not the only initiative that uses a single for several steps of the facilitation process.

Changi and Schiphol are preparing or already deploying pilots with the use of a single token. As stated before the use of biometrics for passenger facilitation is an irreversible process and needs standardization on an intergovernmental level to assure the use of secure and trustworthy biometric tokens.

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