‘Some of the bottlenecks that were flagged during the trial phase are yet to be resolved’.

New Delhi: The “Digi Yatra” project of the Ministry of Civil Aviation conceptualised for seamless and paperless travel across all airports in India is facing an inadvertent delay and the programme which was expected to be launched in March 2022 has missed yet another deadline.
Sources in the Ministry of Civil Aviation say that it could take some more time to implement the project in full-scale as some of the bottlenecks which were flagged during the trial phase are yet to be plugged. In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha in April this year, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had said that the Digi Yatra programme will be implemented in a phased manner starting from March 2023.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, Union Minister for Civil Aviation, in a written reply to the Parliament earlier this year said, “There have been some challenges with respect to the delivery and installation of hardware equipment at the respective airports due to Covid-19. However, online meetings have been held for approving the Software Requirements documents, Software Design documents etc.”
The programme which was launched in 2018 by the then Civil Aviation Minister, Jayant Sinha, was first slated for full-scale operations by 2020, but the Ministry has said that the plans to implement the programme had to be pushed back due to the Covid- 19 pandemic that had hit the world and since then the “Digi Yatra” programme had missed two deadlines—one for 2020 and then of 2021. However, the Digi Yatra programme was implemented for testing in four airports of the Airport Authority of India–Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune and Vijayawada and three Joint Venture airports of Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore and the testing was successfully completed earlier this year. Sources in the Delhi airport have confirmed to The Sunday Guardian that preliminary testing of Digi Yatra was done with Vistara airlines and the programme was received with enthusiasm. The testing went smoothly and a few bottlenecks were identified and these will be ironed out before the final launch. The first phase of implementation of the programme has also been planned for at these seven airports.

What is Digi Yatra?
The Digi Yatra programme is an ambitious project of the Ministry of Civil Aviation that would work on the facial recognition technology and artificial intelligence for seamless and paperless travel through airports in India. While taking a domestic flight, passengers willing to opt for Digi Yatra will be asked for a one-time registration either at the airport or through the Digi Yatra portal, against which a unique DY ID will be generated and will be used for all future air travels across India.
The unique DY ID will be linked to one’s PNR number every time one books a ticket with any airline, which in turn will be uploaded in the central database of the Digi Yatra portal. With the help of the airline and using artificial intelligence, the portal will be able to recognise the airport, the city, the airline and passenger details to make a match and send the details to the security staff six hours prior to the departure of the flight for a quick and hassle-free experience for the traveller at the airport.
Airports will be fitted with automatic boarding gates that will operate using facial recognition technology at several points, such as the main entry gate into the terminal building, boarding gates and at the entry to the Security Hold Area (SHA).
Through this process, for passengers opting for the Digi Yatra scheme, they would not be facing with any manual intervention at any point at the airport, thus significantly reducing the time one takes at an airport, from the main entry gate to the boarding gate.
The Japan-based NEC Technologies has bagged the contract for implementing the technological aspect of the Digi Yatra project which includes the installation of biometric and facial recognition technologies at the airports.
The Sunday Guardian had reached out to NEC Technologies seeking their response on Digi Yatra project and its implementation; however, emails sent to the company did not elicit any response till the time of going to the press.