Incidents of fake e-tickets usage to gain illegal entry into Indian airports were highest in 2018 in past four years, prompting security agencies to moot biometric or barcode-based access system for passengers.
While security officials ruled out any terror-like or extreme sabotage threat in these recorded incidents, they expressed concern over the potential of this menace being misused in future to breach the airport security.
As per a CISF data accessed by PTI, a total of 140 incidents (about 26 per cent more) of illegal entries of passengers using fake or cancelled e-tickets were intercepted till early December as compared to 111 such incidents registered last year. The comparative figures for 2016 were 74 while for 2015 it was 43.
The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) is the mandated security unit to guard Indian civil airports and it has 61 such facilities under its umbrella at present.
The force has caught both Indians and foreigners for these offences.
It found that either ignorance of rules or sheer desire to see off a family member or friend has prompted the offenders to gain illegal entry into the airport terminal by showing a paper printout or mobile-based PDF attachment of an air ticket, that has been cancelled, to a CISF security personnel at the gate.
"While none of these incidents were serious from the point of view of a serious security breach, the possibility of someone using a fake or cancelled e-ticket to cause a serious breach to airport security in the future cannot be ruled out," a senior official involved in airports security said.
The multiple security agencies tasked for airports security like the CISF, Intelligence Bureau and Bureau of Civil Avaition Security (BCAS) want this menace to be checked by usage of biometric or barcode-based entry of passengers, the official said.
Some government proposals are in the offering like 'Digi Yatra' and barcode-based air tickets are being mulled as options. Work is in progress, the official added.
Under 'Digi Yatra', it is proposed to have a centralised registration system for passengers and each of them would get a unique ID.
The ID would be shared by passengers at the time of booking tickets. It can be created by sharing name, e-mail id, mobile number and details of any identity proof, including Aadhaar.
Before travel, the airline would share the passenger data and the ID with the airport from where the passenger would be flying out.
There would be one-time verification at the departure airport while travelling for the first time using the ID. After successful verification, facial recognition biometric would be captured and stored in the Digi Yatra ID.
A registered passenger can go to the e-gate of the airport and scan the barcode/ QR code of the ticket. The system would also generate a token combining the face of passenger with PNR of the ticket, so that at subsequent check-points the ticket details would be available on face recognition.
The usage of smart tools will not only help eradicate the menace of fake tickets but will ease passenger travel experience at the airports, the official said.