In an effort to make airport-handling processes faster, secure and more efficient, some 400 Lufthansa employees at Frankfurt Airport have begun testing fingerprint-based check-in and boarding procedures.

In a second stage to be launched next year, the "Trusted Traveller" project will be put into operation at the airport and offered as a pilot at a second airport, initially for volunteer frequent flyers.

The solution was developed and implemented by the IT service partner Siemens Business Services, with the support of the Siemens software subsidiary PSE.

When checking in, Lufthansa passengers have their fingers scanned and stored in a database. Together with the check-in information, the fingerprint is printed in encrypted form as a bar code on the boarding pass. During boarding, the code on the pass is then checked against the actual fingerprint and, if matched, the passenger is free to board the plane.

At present, biometric procedures in air traffic control are voluntary, but in future they could be made mandatory by EU directive.