Six airports, including those at Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune, are set to have biometric boarding system using facial recognition technology and currently, the project is at the trial stage, according to the government. In August 2018, the civil aviation ministry came out with a policy on Digi Yatra to provide a contactless, seamless and paperless handling of passengers at airports from the entry gate of the terminal to the boarding point.
"Work has been awarded for implementation of Biometric Boarding System (BBS) by using facial recognition technology at six airports namely Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune, Varanasi and Vijayawada. The project is at the trial stage," Minister of State for Civil Aviation V K Singh said in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.
Upon successful completion, the same will be implemented across other airports in a phased manner, he noted.
The minister also said that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) plans to invest around Rs 25,000 crore in the next four to five years for expansion/ development of existing and new terminals using modern technology.
Singh, in a separate written reply, said the government has received Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF) levy of Rs 1,904 crore till now.
A levy of Rs 5,000 is collected per scheduled flight on certain routes to fund the regional connectivity scheme (RCS).
The minister noted that airlines pay Rs 5,000 levy per departure out of their revenues, including the sale of tickets.
"Till now, a total of Rs 1,904 crore has been received as RCF levy and viability gap funding (VGF) of an amount of Rs 1,253 crore has been disbursed," the minister said.
In response to another question on whether the government is aware that many passengers have not yet received refund of credit shell amount from airlines for tickets cancelled during the lockdown year, Singh replied in the affirmative.
"Due to COVID-19 pandemic situation and consequent lockdown, air passengers had faced problems of cancellation of flights and refund for the tickets cancelled, he added.
When asked about Air India, the minister, in a separate written reply, said the airline's total revenues declined to Rs 12,138.77 crore in 2020-21, while expenses jumped to Rs 18,694.43 crore during the same period.
In another written reply, Singh said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has not prescribed guidelines specifying life for an aircraft to fly in India.
"There is no term as 'old aircraft' specified by DGCA. Aircraft are considered airworthy provided the maintenance is as per approved schedule laid down by the manufacturer," he added.
However, DGCA has laid down the age of aircraft intended to be imported into India.
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