E-gate services in Qatar were used some 865,000 times in the first three months of this year, officials have announced.
That’s compared to about a million usages in all of 2016, when e-gate used to cost an annual fee and require prior registration.
The numbers reflect a tremendous increase in demand since the service, which fast-tracks residents through immigration, was made free and available to most expats in December.
More than 865,000 passengers use e-gates during the first quarter of 2017 at Hamad International Airport. https://t.co/FVHGvQg1Ao #MoI_Qatar pic.twitter.com/Wss0UkQWtJ
— Ministry of Interior (@MOI_QatarEn) May 4, 2017
Officials are now urging Qatar residents to use the service when possible to speed up processing at the airport.
The aim is to triple e-gate usage by the end of 2017 to some 3.5 million passengers, said Col. Mohammed Rashid Al Mazrouei, Director of Airport Passports Department.
Currently, there are 21 e-gates at departures, and 20 at arrivals. Each will be increased to 40 in the coming months, he said in a statement this week.
To use the service, travelers should head to an electronic gate and present their Qatar IDs or passports. After passing through the first gate, they then offer a fingerprint or iris scan and then leave immigration.
The process usually takes about 10 seconds, the Ministry of Interior said.
It added that anyone who has trouble using the service can log biometric data like an iris or fingerprint scan at kiosks set up at HIA.
Free e-gate is part of larger efforts to automate most travel services within the airport, from bag weighing to boarding pass printing to boarding the aircraft.
The move should help with wait times, as well as reduce costs for operators.
HIA opened in 2014, but due to the rapid expansion of Qatar Airways has seen a surge in transit passengers and is already operating beyond capacity.
Do you use e-gate? Thoughts?