Manchester was the first UK airport to see the automated border controls go live in 2008 and since then the number of passengers using the e-Passport gates has continued to rise. In the last year 571,117 passengers at Manchester airport used the gates – an average of 47,593 passengers per month. So far this year (April to end of July) a further 254,387 passengers used the automated system – an average of 63,596 to date.
The state-of-the-art gates, which can be used by anyone with a UK or European ‘chipped’ passport who is aged 18 or over, use facial recognition technology to compare the passenger’s face to the digital image recorded in their passport. Their details are then automatically checked against our systems and watchlists – just as if they were seen by an officer. Once the checks are made, the gates open automatically to allow the passenger through the border.
The system is monitored at all times by our officers and anyone rejected by the gates will be sent to an alternative channel to have their passport checked.
Colin Brown, assistant director, Manchester airport, UK Border Agency, said:
‘Britain’s border security controls are among the toughest in the world. More than 200 million people cross the UK border each year and our priority is to ensure the border remains secure in the face of threats like smuggling and illegal immigration, while making legitimate travel and trade easier.
‘By using the latest technology such as e-Passport gates at Manchester Airport we are providing a secure and convenient self-service alternative to the conventional border to allow passengers with a biometric passport to pass through the border securely.’
So far more than 4.5 million people across the country have used the gates at UK airports since they first went live at Manchester airport in 2008.
Julie Armstrong, customer services director, Manchester airport, UK Border Agency said:
‘We are always keen to find new technology that can improve passengers’ journey through the airport and e-gates are one of our success stories. As the first airport to install e-gates it is fantastic to see how popular they are with passengers who use them to securely and speedily go through the immigration process.’
The gates have now been extended to London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports which means the automated border controls now cover all the major airports in the country.