Queenstown's new eGate installed

Customs Minister Nicky Wagner and Queenstown Airport operations general manager Mike Clay try out...
Customs Minister Nicky Wagner and Queenstown Airport operations general manager Mike Clay try out one of the airport's six new eGates yesterday. PHOTO: GUY WILLIAMS
New eGates at Queenstown Airport will double passenger processing through Customs just in time for the winter rush.

Customs Minister Nicky Wagner yesterday unveiled the first of six eGates to be installed at the airport in the next fortnight.

Passengers could pass through the new gates in a one-step process that took about 25 seconds, she said.

‘‘By having this quick processing for low-risk passengers, it means we can use our Customs officers to focus on the high risk passengers.''

The French-made machines use automated passport scanning and biometric technology to match passengers' faces with their passport photos. They can be used by New Zealand, Australian, United States, United Kingdom and Canadian passport holders over 12 years old.

Four will be used for arriving passengers and two for departing passengers.

Ms Wagner said the Government was spending $6.6million at four of New Zealand's international airports to install 29 new eGates and replace another 22 older models.

Of the 180,000 people expected to travel to and from Queenstown between this July and September, at least 60% were likely to use the eGates.

That would ease congestion at peak times caused by flights landing within minutes of each other.

International passenger numbers to and from Queenstown increased by 27% from 355,000 in 2014 to 451,000 in 2015.

That meant the airport would eventually need more of the machines, Ms Wagner said.

Queenstown Airport operations general manager Mike Clay said the machines would begin operating on June 3.

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