BAA has postponed plans to fingerprint passengers at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 following concerns that it would breach privacy laws.
The office of the Information Commissioner, the UK’s data protection watchdog, is conducting an investigation into the plans.
In the meantime, airport operator BAA said it would use only the photographic identification which was already in place.
A BAA spokesman said: “We will be working closely with the Information Commissioner and the Home Office over the next few weeks to agree the best approach going forward.”
Terminal 5 has been designed so that domestic passengers mix with international arrivals taking connecting flights. BAA had intended to take digital fingerprints of both sets of passengers and match them at the boarding gates to prevent illegal entrants to the UK.
The Information Commissioner’s investigation follows a complaint from a privacy campaign group. A spokesman for the Information Commissioner said: “We have serious concerns about what BAA is doing. Fingerprinting is far more intrusive than taking a picture.”
British Airways was due to move all domestic and most European services to T5 overnight on Wednesday this week, ahead of the opening on Thursday.
The terminal was due to handle more than 380 flights on its first day.