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SAS extends fingerprint ID system for domestic flights

All voluntary - for now

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Swedish airline SAS is extending a biometric security program on national flights from Stockholm and Gothenburg and will roll it out to international flights in the near future.

Approximately 50 per cent of all passengers on SAS's domestic flights travel will be able to use the biometric solution, the company announced this week.

The scheme is supposed to help match luggage with passengers. Airlines are obliged by law to match passengers with bags, a measure intended to make it harder to sabotage an aircraft. SAS also hopes it will solve the problem of rogue bags getting onto planes.

Under the scheme, passengers will have to have their fingerprints scanned when they check in luggage and also when they board the plane. The security check is not mandatory, at least for now.

However, SAS insists that the fingerprint technology is more secure and easier than other methods. When passengers use biometrics, no further ID is needed. Personal data is protected because the fingerprint is erased at the end of the flight, Susanne Dahlberg, Commercial Director for SAS Sverige, said.

SAS started its biometrics program in 2006, when it selected Precise Biometrics as the overall supplier for the technology. Precise Biometrics, which attracted international attention as one of the main suppliers of national ID cards for the 60 million-plus inhabitants of Thailand, developed the solution solely for SAS. However, it sees a large global market for its Precise BioFlight product, such as internal security checks.

SAS Sverige has previously used the system at regional airports around Sweden. The complete biometric solution is now in operation on flights from Arlanda to Luleå and Gothenburg and from Gothenburg to Arlanda.

Sweden is the first country to introduce fingerprinting on such a large scale. No other airlines have announced similar plans. In the US, air carriers were fighting a federal proposal last year that would require their personnel to digitally scan foreigners' fingerprints at check-in areas before departure. This would hamper the check-in process significantly, the airlines feared. ®

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