Sharjah: Now, flying out of Sharjah International Airport has become faster with the introduction of Smart Gates that allows scanning of passport and boarding card in less than 20 seconds.

The Sharjah Airport Authority in collaboration with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs in Sharjah (GDRFAS) on Sunday launched a new Smart Gates system at its passport control that helps passengers avoid long queues for having entries and exits stamped on their passports.

The new system had a soft launch as a trial in November last year with 850,000 passengers using the system successfully until now.

Using a highly accurate and efficient process that reads and scans passport information by capturing biometric data, the Smart Gates compare the information in the passport with the passenger details saved in the system.

According to Ali Salem Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Airport Authority, the Smart Gates will speed up the process at passport control, cut short waiting time and ease movement of passengers as the passenger footfall continues to rise at Sharjah Airport.

“Following our soft launch we experienced the benefits of Smart Gates and the ease with which passengers pass through passport control. While earlier passengers were required to wait for an average of 10 minutes, now they pass through the smart system in less than 20 seconds,” Al Midfa told Gulf News, during the launch.

As many as 16 Smart Gates have been installed at the airport’s passport control area, eight at the arrivals and eight at the departures, where passengers can just scan their passports and boarding cards.

“The system was introduced as part of our efforts to ease the passage through Sharjah International Airport right from parking to boarding,” said Al Midfa.

The Smart Gate takes the passenger through a simple four-step process which involves scanning the passport photo page at gate and then scanning the bar code of the boarding pass.

Once these two steps are completed the passenger is required to step into an enclosure and stand at a designated spot, where a camera at the other end of the enclosure captures the image of the passenger after which the gate opens to allow the passenger to proceed to the boarding area.

However, to use the system, passengers will have to do a one-time registration, which can be done either at the arrival or departure areas of the airport. Registration counters are also available at GDRFA offices in Sharjah.

“Passengers need not be travelling the same day to register in the system. People can visit the GDRFA offices or airport arrival or departure areas to register any time they want. They will have to carry their passports with them to scan it in our system,” added Al Midfa.

He added that the existing manual passport control counters will continue to operate to compliment the smart system.


Airport expansion

More than 11 million passengers travelled through Sharjah Airport last year and as the visitors continue to rise the airport authority is planning a massive expansion that includes a new arrivals area at the cost of Dh1.5 billion.

Al Midfa said that an additional traffic interchange is currently under construction on the Airport Road to ease exit and entry to the airport and will be ready by December this year.

“Once the new interchange is ready we will start work on expansion of the airport. We will build a new arrival area and the existing building will be used for departure only,” said Al Midfa.

He said that engineering consultancy firm Parsons has already been appointed for the expansion project.

He added that the authority is currently reviewing the master plan of the airport that has already been approved by the Government of Sharjah.


How it works:

• Do a one-time registration at Sharjah International Airport or GDRFA Sharjah offices.

• Check in you baggage and collect your boarding pass (if you are a departing passenger)

• Proceed to the Smart Gates at the passport control area

• Place your passport photo page on the e-reader at the Smart Gate

• Scan the bar code of your boarding pass on the e-reader (in case you are a departing passenger)

• Enter the Smart Gate enclosure and stand at the designated spot

• Place your luggage next to you. Remove any spectacles, hat or caps.

• Look at the camera, facing the other end of the Smart Gates enclosure

• Once you complete the procedure, the Smart Gate will open, proceed to boarding area.