German airline Lufthansa said Wednesday it hopes to introduce digital finger-printing as early as next year and so-called "smart cards" to help speed up check-in procedures. Boarding passes are to be personalized with the passenger's thumbprint "if possible as early as next year," company spokesman Thomas Jachnow said. Laboratory testing of the system, involving Lufthansa's own employees, had begun on Monday and was scheduled to last two weeks. The results of the test would then be analyzed and, if deemed successful, widespread use of the system could be introduced "in the course of 2006," Jachnow said. The launch date would therefore come before biometric finger-printing is officially introduced in German passports and identity cards. Under the system, passengers submit a thumbprint at the check-in counter which is then checked at the boarding gate. The aim of the system is to prevent people who are not on the passenger list from boarding a plane. Frequent flyers could even be given smart cards that contain their digital finger print and other personal data. Asked about possible abuse of the data, Jachnow insisted that all personal information would be encoded, rendering it useless for outside parties. Passengers could also request that the data contained on the boarding pass be immediately deleted once the check had been carried out, he said.