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Air New Zealand Readies for RFID-enabled Boarding Passes

At 26 airports throughout the country, the airline's frequent flyers will use the permanent, reusable boarding passes to check themselves in, enter passenger lounges or board a flight.
By Dave Friedlos
The ePass is currently available only to frequent Air New Zealand passengers, but another service, mPass, is available to all passengers. To use this service, customers must download a special Java application, designed by Air New Zealand's IT Innovations team, to their mobile phone. A boarding pass is downloaded to the phone when customers access the application in real time, and can then be scanned at the kiosk or gate.

The ePass is part of a technology transformation at Air New Zealand's domestic airports, Raue says, noting that the carrier spent months assessing RFID systems around the world to understand its use in transportation systems, and at airports worldwide.

The RFID tags were initially tested on the access control systems at Air New Zealand's head office, Raue says, to give it confidence in the tags' durability. As part of its standard application development, the airline then carried out extensive testing using the new kiosk and RFID interrogators at the departure gate. The Auckland Airport rollout, earlier this month, went smoothly, she says.

"We are confident that we have the best solution in place to deliver a fantastic experience to our domestic customers," Raue states. She assures customers that security has not been compromised through the introduction of RFID and mobile phone-enabled boarding.

"We have worked in consultation with the Aviation Security Standards team at the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand," Raue says, "and advise our customers to retain proof of travel documentation, should this be requested."

According to Raue, the back-end IT infrastructure for RFID-enabled kiosks, lounge access and gate access is already installed. She expects all airports to be operational alongside Auckland and Christchurch by early next year.

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