Bangkok (VNA) - The Thai Transport Ministry is planning to use a facial recognition system in five upcountry airports as part of its ambitious "smart airport" project to reduce overcrowding, increase safety and boost tourism.

The technology is expected to replace inspections of passports and national identity cards, which becomes an increasingly time-consuming procedure as the number of air passengers rises.

Currently, travellers may be required to show their ID cards or passports up to three times in one trip through an airport, said Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam.

But these repetitive tasks can be reduced to save time, if airports are equipped with the technology to identify and verify people's faces.

The transport ministry first wants to install the technology at regional airports currently struggling to handle the large number of air passengers. Those include Krabi and Surat Thani airports in the South, and Udon Thani, Ubon Ratchathani and Khon Kaen airports in the Northeast.

A working panel, consisting of representatives from the Department of Airports, the Royal Thai Police and the Interior Ministry will be set up to study this new identification system. They need to discuss ways to sync their databases, which store information on Thai and foreign travellers, in order to support the technology.

Earlier, the Thai Customs Department said that it will install 23 X-ray machines at the baggage carousels at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, aiming at improving the efficiency of security checks of luggage of inbound passengers and to prevent goods smuggling. The machines will be installed and put into operation in early 2020./.