The Foreigners and Borders Service inaugurated a new control area at Lisbon airport to process flights mainly from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Croatia, countries outside the Schengen Area. It is estimated that the new system will process 700 passengers per hour and around 30 flights per day.
For already practical electronic control (e-gates) in Lisbon, of the 49 acquired by SEF for other airports (Faro, Porto and Madeira), which aim to reduce queues and faster processing in the arrival of passengers, "in an effort modernization of the automated border control system that has been in place at national airports since 2007 ", said SEF to SAPO TEK. The premiere took place last week, on a flight originating from the United Kingdom.
In addition to the 7 e-gates at Humberto Delgado airport, in the coming weeks they will be extended to Faro and Madeira. The S Carneiro airport in Porto will also receive the technology, with the introduction of 16 electronic gates, although without defined dates. The 49 systems acquired represent an investment of around five million euros, resulting from the plan established to improve the conditions of Portuguese airports, especially the reception of passengers from the Schengen area.
In addition to new electronic passenger identification systems, new SEF inspectors were also recruited. As explained to SAPO TEK, these new e-gates have a faster and more functional operating system, which allows to process the reading of passports with biometric data more clerically. The RAPID system allows automated border control, supervised by the Inspectors of the Foreigners and Borders Service.
"Automatically, and in less than 20 seconds, the system authenticates the travel document and, through a facial recognition system, currently compares the passenger's face with the photograph registered on the document chip using an algorithm owner and a technological solution of biometrics. Once the identification process, which includes a search in international databases, has been validated, the passenger is authorized to continue the journey ".
The current system performs this process in just "one step" and all procedures are performed in a single stop of the passenger. In addition to a new "more modern" layout adapted to the current passenger flow, SEF highlights some innovative features, including automatic detection when the passenger approaches the RAPID gates; quick and detailed instructions on the screen next to the gate's exit door, including where to place the identification document; a more intuitive interface, with photo-realistic animations, with text and audio messages to follow in English or Portuguese according to the document. SEF also states that the physical structure of the RAPID gates has been minimized as much as possible, in order to maximize the passage space for both the passenger and their hand luggage.
According to Eduardo Cabrita, Minister of Internal Administration, the number of passengers controlled by SEF at Lisbon airport has almost doubled in recent years, from around 10 million in 2015 to 18 million in 2019.
In January, the average time in the control lines was one hour and seven minutes, during the busiest period of the day.