IATA: S-Travel Initiative Unveiled

A group of leading organizations from air transport have teamed with smart card and biometric integration companies to develop and trial a “secure-travel”
(s-Travel) initiative that will incorporate digital certificates. The project aims to achieve the highest level of identity verification for frequent travellers and contribute towards improving the security of the global air transport system. Later this year, the European Commission (EC) and Swiss Office for Education and Science funded consortium will undertake trials in Europe, with the intention of the service being expanded globally.
The s-Travel project will include digital authentication of people to enable secure physical and electronic airline and airport processing for frequent air travellers, and in the future may expand to enable staff access to airline and airport facilities. The project will develop and implement systems to authenticate passengers at both check-in and boarding stages, based on modification to the airlines` Departure Control Systems (DCS).

IATA Director General and CEO Pierre J. Jeanniot, added: “Strict procedures need to be followed to ensure the proper authentication of individuals and IATA`s participation in this initiative will involve defining the optimum enrolment procedures and processes. This will contribute to the definition of global standards that will help secure the air transportation system and improve passenger confidence.”

SITA Director General John Watson commented: “SITA is spearheading the development of a global aviation community solution that aims to greatly enhance passenger travel security. SITA has a long tradition of serving the needs of aviation as a neutral provider, deploying community solutions - many of which are now industry standards. Community solutions enable applications to be shared, giving access to the latest technologies while significantly driving down costs.”

To ensure the provision of an interoperable global solution, SITA will assist IATA with the development of industry standards. IATA will define the enrolment processes and procedures to be followed for airlines to authenticate frequent travellers or their own personnel, prior to them issuing a smart-card containing biometrics and digital certificates. SITA will ensure that the various competitive biometric technologies available will be able to interface to, and are interoperable with, current and future airport infrastructures.

The s-Travel initiative will combine digital certificates (provided jointly by SITA and IATA), smart-cards (GEMPLUS) and biometric technology integration (KEYWARE). To ensure that the s-Travel system does not infringe upon the privacy of frequent travellers the consortium will work closely with the EC and relevant data commissioners to resolve confidentiality issues.


Funding from the Swiss Office for Education and Science and the EC, subject to final contract negotiations, have been awarded as part of programmes to foster research and development on a pan-European scale. Further details of the pilot study and confirmation of the airline and airport participants will be announced in due course.