Orlando International Airport is trying to make it faster and easier for travelers in groups to get through the typical long lines at security checkpoints.
The air hub, which welcomes more than 47 million people a year, is interested in incorporating new technology being researched by the U.S. Customs & Border Protection to process overseas passengers quicker than usual, according to Greater Orlando Aviation Authority CEO Phil Brown.
Being able to move guests at a much faster rate would make vacations smoother and help improve the Orlando experience. “We’ve been working with U.S. Customs & Border Protection on a facial recognition system for international arrivals,” Brown said during Orlando Business Journal’s Feb. 8 Making the Connection: Smart Cities, Smarter Transportation luncheon at the airport. “The next step is to install a camera that actually can take a family at one time and process them in the system.”
Last year, the airport agreed to spend $4 million to upgrade its processing system with facial recognition technology at 30 international gates. It was the first U.S. air hub to be part of the customs’ Biometric Entry & Exit Program.
This new advancement would further ramp up the airport’s efficiency. “The next effort beyond that is to see if we can get Customs & Border Protection to talk to the Transportation Security Administration to start seeing some new technology at the checkpoints,” Brown said during the event.
The new technology may be installed at the airport sometime before the end of this year, though a timeline hasn’t yet been determined. Brown said his team already informed customs officials of Orlando’s interest in being one of the first air hubs to tackle the new family-wide processing system.
Improving efficiency is key as the airport grows. More than 6.6 million international passengers passed through the Orlando International Airport in 2018, an 11.64 percent increase from the previous year. Domestic travelers made up the remaining 41 million passengers — up 6.2 percent from 2017.
The airport’s traffic is expected to reach the 50 million-passenger milestone within the next year or two.
Orlando International — Florida’s busiest airport and the 11th busiest in the U.S. — is a vital cog for the region, which welcomed a record 72 million visitors in 2017. Improving the overall visitor experience and making it hassle-free is important for Orlando’s $70 billion tourism industry, so any additions are welcome, said Visit Orlando President and CEO George Aguel.
“The airport experience is an important point of differentiation for us,” Aguel told OBJ. “Every time our airport tests or adds new programs that increase traveler convenience, especially ones that help families gain better and easier entry, it helps diminish potential barriers to visit and also allows visitors to spend more time enjoying all there is to do in our destination.”
Meanwhile, the Orlando airport already is underway on a massive expansion plan for a new terminal. The $2.15 billion south terminal, slated to be completed by 2020, will have up to 19 gates accommodating aircraft of various sizes.
The south terminal, dubbed Terminal C, is part of a much larger $4.27 billion, multiyear capital improvement plan designed to meet increasing passenger and airline demand. The new south terminal expansion now under construction can operate in either domestic or international mode.
Source: Orlando Business Journals