Outbound foreign passengers at Suvarnabhumi airport can use automated border control systems (eGates) starting on Friday to help speed up the boarding process, Immigration Bureau chief Pol Lt Gen Itthipol Itthisanronnachai said yesterday.
He said that in 2012, the airport began using 16 eGates for outbound checks but for Thai nationals only. Now, they will also be available for foreigners.
He said it only takes about 20 seconds to scan each passenger's face and fingerprints. Gates manned by immigration officers take about 45 seconds, he noted.
Currently, Suvarnabhumi handles 50,000–60,000 outbound passengers per day, he said, adding congestion happens when there are more than 20 departures per hour.
Therefore, immigration police have quickened the checking process, he said, adding the move is in line with the government's tourism policy.
Pol Lt Gen Itthipol said Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin spoke with him at the airport before leaving for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco last month.
The prime minister expressed concern over the slow outflow of passengers and asked for the installation of eGates for outbound foreign travellers.
Immigration Police Division 2 commander Pol Gen Choengron Rimphadee said the new eGates are for electronic passport holders under standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Foreigners with ordinary passports and children and the disabled, although holding e-passports, must still go through manned immigration gates.
Through this system, the outflow of passengers at the airport is expected to improve from about 5,000 to 12,000 passengers per hour, he said. The machines can still detect those with arrest warrants, those banned from travelling abroad and those who overstayed their visas, he added.
Arriving passengers will still have to be checked by immigration officers for security reasons, he noted.
Immigration officials can be deployed to various gates to help cope with inflow during peak times, he said.