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'A fiasco': Brussels Airport scraps e-passport gates

15:19 16/02/2020

Brussels Airport is scrapping its €2.4 million electronic passport gates after less than five years - because they keep malfunctioning.

The 24 gates have been condemned as "a waste of taxpayers' money" by police unions.

They were introduced by former interior minister Jan Jambon to strengthen security at the Zaventem terminal against the threat of terrorist attacks.

The gates use face recognition technology to compare each passenger with their passport photo - and only open if there is a match.

"But they were constantly defective," a police source told De Standaard. The system often failed to detect a match - and in one case it allowed a female passenger through when she had scanned her husband's passport.

"It was promised that they would save manpower, which could then be deployed elsewhere," the police source added. "The gates actually required more staff, not less. Police officers had to run from one gate to the next whenever an error message came up."

A federal police spokesman said: "We will replace them with a more efficient system." The cost of the new system - and how long it will take to implement - is unclear.

"It is a real fiasco," said Carlo Medo, from the NSPV police union. "Hopefully the new system will work better."

Written by The Bulletin