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The number of passengers using automated ‘ePassport gates’ at Bristol Airport increased by 100 per cent in the 12 months to 1 July 2013 compared to the previous corresponding period. 31.3 per cent of eligible passengers used the ePassport gates, which provide a safe, secure and convenient alternative to the conventional border control process for legitimate passengers entering the UK. ePassport gates are available to those aged 18 or over holding biometric passports from countries in the European Economic Area or Switzerland. Biometric passports carry the distinctive ePassport logo featuring a circle with lines on either side. Bristol is one of ten UK airports where ePassport gates are installed, with three machines in operation. In a process which takes just a few seconds, passengers’ faces are scanned and checked against their passport photos. Unlike other technology previously trialled at other UK airports, such as iris scanning, passengers are not required to pre-register to use ePassport gates. Although the gates are automated, they do need to be monitored by Border Force officers, and new users can also find it helpful to be guided through the relatively straightforward process. Working in partnership with Border Force, Bristol Airport has committed to staffing the gates at fixed opening times during which passengers can always expect ePassport gates to be available. These run from 11:00 until midnight with opening hours extending to 20 hours a day between July and September.
Alison Roberts, Head of Customer Operations at Bristol Airport, said: “The dramatic increase in the use of ePassport gates shows that our customers appreciate the convenient service they provide. Working with Border Force, we have committed to making the gates available for the majority of arriving passengers this summer. This will help to provide a positive impression to visitors to the UK using Bristol Airport as their entry point, as well as providing a quick and efficient service to those arriving home.” Carole Upshall, Director of Border Force South, said: “By using the latest technology such as ePassport gates at UK airports Border Force is providing a secure and convenient self-service to allow passengers with a biometric passport to pass through the border securely. “The use of ePassport gates at UK airports continues to increase with over 9.7 million passengers using them in the last year. Two thirds of the adult UK population now have biometric passports and Border Force is supporting this rapidly growing number by replacing its existing ePassport gates with second generation gates at airport terminals across the country over the next four years.” Border Force also opened an additional border control point last summer to accommodate increased passenger volumes in line with forecast growth at Bristol. Selected flights can be processed through the additional point, reducing wait times during busy periods.
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