Part of government contingency plan to ‘save summer airport misery’
E-gates (the technological passport ‘RAPID4ALL control turnstiles which involve facial recognition) are now being used by passengers from the US and Canada to pass through Lisbon and Ponta Delgada airports.
The move comes as part of the government’s contingency plan to cut down on queues that have been blighting ‘immigration control’ over the last weeks.
25 new SEF (border agency) inspectors have also been drafted in to support teams already working at Lisbon and Porto terminals.
A statement from the Ministry for Interior Administration (MAI) has said the extension of RAPID4ALL to US and Canadian travellers will also be rolled out in Porto and Faro airports at a later date.
The reason for starting first in Lisbon/ Azores is that these airports are the ones receiving the most US/ Canadian passengers at this time of year. Just yesterday in Lisbon, 700 from the US (and 67 from Canada) benefitted from the new policy.
Says MAI, RAPID4ALL “improves management of external borders, improves service to passengers, increases the efficiency of frontier controls and combats illegal immigration”.
Up till now, the RAPID4ALL turnstiles have been open to Portuguese passport holders and those from the European Union, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the UK and Singapore.
MAI’s statement describes its summer contingency plan as “possessing a vast set of measures, with a triple dimension”. They will come into effect between now and July 4.
The triple dimension involves: substantially reinforcing human resources at the airports, new technological solutions (“for the immediate and future”) and “more operational solutions”.
Said minister José Luís Carneiro “we will be monitoring the implementation of these measures and seeking to perfect the allocation of human resources and materials so that waiting times can be reduced as much as possible”. Nonetheless, he added that it will never be “totally possible to guarantee queues cease to exist because they imply variables of different natures”.
The minister added that airports throughout the world are under increased pressure as people return to taking summer holidays after the misery of two years blighted by pandemic restrictions.