Autochannel Active at Suvarnabhumi
The automatic passport screening system at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport went into operation yesterday without a snag, much to the rejoice of passengers for the speed and convenience it provides
The Immigration Bureau, which spent 76 million baht on the system known as Autochannel for initial use by Thai passport holders, voiced satisfaction with how it was easing passenger traffic at the crowded airport, especially in light of the coming Songkran holidays.
“It works fine and we received a lot of compliments from passengers who told us we should have had this system in place long before,” Pol Col Viboon Kittiisaengsuwan, who supervises departure immigration at Suvarnabhumi, told the Bangkok Post yesterday.
Anirut Thanomkulbutra, president of Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT), said passengers have yet to get fully acquainted with the new system but the number using it will pick up quickly.
That process will be quickened by the guidance of attendants stationed 24/7 at each of the 16 Autochannel units, split equally at the departure and arrival halls, over the next several weeks, said Pol Col Viboon.
The attendants are provided by Chan Wanich, the Thai company that supplied Autochannel to the bureau.
Autochannel completes its two-step task _ first reading the passport and then scanning a finger and taking a photo _ in an average of 15 seconds, half the time it takes to be processed manually by an officer.
Autochannel should allow the bureau to allocate its limited human resources to international passengers, who comprise about 80% of the 160,000 travelers passing through the airport each day.
Suvarnabhumi has been operating in excess of its designed capacity of 45 million passengers a year. Passenger throughput last year was 47.2 million, and the number is expected to soar to 51 million this year.
According to Pol Col Viboon, plans are afoot to expand Autochannel at Suvarnabhumi to cover foreign passport holders, particularly expats and frequent business visitors, in the next few years.
“It’s a step-by-step process,” he said, explaining that the bureau has yet to see the result of initial operations involving Thai passport holders.
“There are complex issues related to the validity of visas and whether people are on the blacklists of Interpol or other global organizations, which means the introduction of Autochannel for foreign nationals will take time.”
Source: Bangkok Post