SmartGates on way for Cairns airport
CAIRNS is being assessed for more high-speed Customs processing facilities at the international airport.
The Federal Government is to increase the number of SmartGates at airports over the next two years so travellers can clear Customs faster with 20 more terminals around the country by the end of next financial year.
A Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman said Sydney and Melbourne were a priority with the allocation of seven remaining gates to other airports based on the need for additional capacity.
"This assessment is expected to be completed by Customs and Border Protection early in 2013 and will consider a variety of factors including the numbers of travellers arriving at each of our major international airports and SmartGate usage rates," she said.
An increase in flights, particularly from China, will be a factor in the analysis of Cairns airport. Cairns currently has three kiosks and two SmartGates.
One extra SmartGate kiosk and four gates were opened at Sydney Airport this month and another four gates will be added by June. Five gates were also opened in Melbourne late last month.
More than 7 million travellers have used SmartGate since August 2007.
The hi-tech express passport system allows travellers to process themselves through Customs using digital face-recognition technology.
Small SmartGate computer kiosks allow passengers to insert their ePassport and answer declaration questions using a touch screen.
Almost $8 million has been set aside for the new terminals to help Customs and Border Protection to increase the percentage of eligible arriving travellers using a SmartGate kiosk to 65 per cent this financial year and 80 per cent next financial year.
The computer also examines other security features on the passport, including visa stamps and immigration details.
SmartGates are available to Australian and New Zealand citizens aged 18 and over with ePassports but will eventually be available to citizens of other nationalities.
A four-month trial began last month that also allows US Global Entry Program members who hold an ePassport and are aged 16 years or older to use SmartGate.
The trial will help determine the best way of extending SmartGate to other nationalities with ePassports.
Additional reporting by Angela Saurine
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Set for arrival: A US ePassport holder is guided through a SmartGate, the Customs processing system which could be on the cards for Cairns.