OR Tambo new biometrics: International passengers urged to check in early

2016-07-11 11:35 - Louzel Lombard
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Cape Town - Despite Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba confirming on Friday 8 July that delays at OR Tambo International due to its new biometric data capturing had been resolved, some airlines have extended their check-in times and urged travellers to proceed to gates swiftly, as a measure to avoid missing flights.

The change-over to Biometric Data Capturing at OR Tambo at the beginning of July had resulted in lengthy delays at international inbound and outbound Immigration check points. Because of ongoing congestion, which bottlenecks in busier times especially at weekends and during the school holiday period which ends next week, Pan-African low-cost carrier fastjet is urging passengers to check in one hour early because of the delays. 

The airline announced on its website that the Department of Home Affairs' change over to the Biometric system at OR Tambo International Airport has caused delays on their International inbound and outbound passenger processing at the Immigration checkpoints. 

"We will now open check-in desks hour hours before your scheduled departure. This allows our passengers one extra hour to check-in, leaving more time for immigration. Fastjet advise all passengers to allow yourself extra time for check-in and immigration at OR Tambo International Airport."

British Airways check-in counters will still close one hour before departure, but the airline told Traveller24 that international passengers need to "proceed through immigration as soon as possible after check-in". 

Passengers were experiencing delays over the weekend, spending an hour and a half in order to get checked in. 

Tlali Tlali for South African Airways also told Traveller24 that the airline "encourages foreign nationals, especially those whose travel originate from Johannesburg, to check in early to lift pressure off the system".  

Tlali says SAA held a meeting with the department of home affairs last week, and agreed on some of the key things to implement in order to effect improvements on the roll-out. 

The DHA's Gigaba said the following interventions have been implemented to clear delays:

- Mobilising Senior Management from Head Office to assist.

- Reverting to manual processing in response to the volumes of travellers.

- Decommissioning biometric capability on some systems to normal eMCS, on Saturday 2 July 2016.

- Engaging the ACSA terminal management and the Airline Operation Committee, to enhance communication and guide traveller behaviour.

- Scaling up training for officials.

Further, Gigaba says, "I have directed our senior managers to step up the biometrics’ communication campaign, effectively and sufficiently to inform the public about the biometric system and its benefits." 

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