The Japanese government has introduced a new departure tax on passengers leaving the country by sea or air, with the proceeds to be used to fund the facial recognition systems in place at airports. The 1,000-yen tax will be charged on plane and ship tickets, and will affect both Japanese and foreigners over two years old or those who are in transit with stays exceeding 24 hours. The government expects to collect around 50 billion yen this year with the tax. It is the first tax to be introduced in the country in 27 years and is labelled as assisting tourists. The money collected will be allocated for facial recognition systems at airports that have been touted as expediting immigration procedures and providing greater assistance in foreign languages for those who visit the country.
Some passengers travelling internationally via Qantas will be trialling biometric technology at Sydney Airport, with the first stage using facial recognition for them to complete automated flight check-in and bag drop, gain access to the lounge, and board the plane itself. Additional steps proposed for future trials include mobile check-in and automated border processing, allowing passengers to use their face as their access identification. As the launch partner for the trial, Qantas worked with the airport "from the outset", with Qantas chief customer officer Vanessa Hudson noting the airline is focused on increasing the use of technology to drive innovation for customers. "There is an increasing need for airlines and airports to offer faster and more convenient airport experiences and we're excited to see what results the trial produces," she added. Sydney Airport said consent is actively sought from all passengers and the "strictest level of privacy" is adhered to on behalf of those participating in the trial.
The federal government has announced the next phase of its airport automation plan, with international travellers departing Australia now able to check-in via smartphone. The initiative, available from Monday, will see airlines issue electronic boarding passes for international flights. Travellers using the digital option won't need to visit the check-in desk to show their passport, and they will be able to show their boarding pass on a mobile device instead of using a paper boarding pass, still following the normal border clearance path at the airport. "Last financial year more than 21.4 million travellers were cleared through the border departing Australian international airports. This number will continue to rise," Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said in a statement.
Those catching a train in Shenzhen may soon be able to pay for their fare through facial recognition, with a trial of the technology reportedly under way. It is one of the various technologies backed by the ultra-fast 5G network being tested by the local Shenzhen subway operator, according to the South China Morning Post. The initiative under way at Futian Station sees commuters scan their faces on a tablet-sized screen mounted on the entrance gate. The fare is then automatically deducted from a linked account. According to the report, there are currently 5 million rides per day on the city's network.
Passengers trying to enter or leave Australia on Monday morning have been delayed following an IT outage experienced by the Australian Border Force (ABF). The outage is affecting Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane international airports. A spokesperson for the ABF told ZDNet the government entity is working to resolve the issue that is creating delays in processing both inbound and outbound passengers. "The Australian Border Force is working with the Department of Home Affairs to resolve an IT systems outage impacting inbound and outbound passenger processing at international airports," the spokesperson said. "Additional ABF staff have been deployed to process passengers and to minimise delays."