Immigration Division II commander, Pol Maj Gen Natthathorn Prohsunthorn, told TTR Weekly that by the end of March, or early April, the Immigration Bureau will switch to auto-gates to speed up the clearance of Thai passengers.
“Passengers will pass through a gate to verify the passport whether it is authorised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Then they will move on to the next machine to verify identity, whether they are the same person in the passport by finger scan, check criminal records and related information.”
The commander claims a processing time of just 16 seconds. Eight gates will be deployed at departure and
arrival zones (two each at zones B and C).
In 2010 Immigration Division II tested the system at Suvarnabhumi Airport’s arrival checkpoints using machines borrowed from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Pol Maj Gen Natthathorn also said that Immigration Division II would tackle staff shortage with a new recruitment drive, but it is a long term plan over three to five years.
“Passengers increase by 10 per cent annually and that means we need 355 officers for all checkpoints,” he explained.
The division has 1,148 officers on the payroll, 164 short of the required workforce.
It lost 98 officers, this month, who were promoted to commissioned officers and transferred to other departments. Another 127 officers will be away on training later this month for a month and return to the division afterwards.
“To temporarily solve this shortage, we have asked for more officers to be transferred from overland immigration checkpoints, but there are language issues that need to be considered,” he said.
Suvarnabhumi Airport has 124 counters at the arrivals area and 80 in the departures hall. Around 60 per cent of the counters are operational.
Last year, Suvarnabhumi Airport received 35 million international passengers (Thais and foreigners).