Major airlines to launch a digital Covid ‘health passport’ in March

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The IATA Travel Pass mobile application is being presented as a solution to help get the aviation sector moving again. Some of the world’s largest airlines intend to implement a ‘health passport’ next month in an effort to revive the aviation sector and get passengers travelling again – and to do so safely.

The Travel Pass is an International Air Transport Association (IATA) initiative and consists of a mobile application, currently under development, which will allow travellers to store and manage Covid-19 test or vaccination certificates.

The association considers the app to be key to reopening borders without quarantines and reactivating the aviation sector. They say that currently the traveller is faced with fragmented and diverse Covid-19 testing requirements for entry and exit, as well as the variety of different types of tests (PCR, LAMP, antigen and spectroscopic) required by governments.

“Passengers are confused and need accurate information. But they don’t know where to find it, nor do they understand it, even if they find it,” it said.

IATA incorporates 290 companies from 120 countries that move 82 per cent of world air traffic, and points out that it expects the application to be available in the iOS and Android stores next March.

“The goal is to give governments the confidence to reopen borders without imposing quarantines on incoming travellers,” it said.

Digital passport

The Travel Pass will comprise a global registry of health requirements in which the traveller can find precise information about test and vaccination needs for each destination.

It will also have a registry of testing and vaccination centres at the place of departure that meet the standards for the testing and vaccination requirements of the destination.

There will be a module that will allow passengers to create a “digital passport” to store vaccination certificates and verify that they are sufficient for their travels, and enable the users to share these certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel.

IATA says that the Travel Pass will be free for passengers to download and use and make it clear that governments, not airlines or IATA, are the ones that establish the rules on entry requirements for travellers.

The association reminds passengers that it will always maintain control of the privacy of its data, since the IATA Travel Pass simply links the entities that need verification with the test or vaccination data when travellers allow it. “No verification will go to an airline or a government without their authorisation,” it pointed out.

The first cross-border pilot projects are currently under way, although IATA plans to launch this tool at the end of March. Singapore Airlines is already testing the IATA Travel Pass.

“We are in the final stages of planning a trial with International Airlines Group, one of the largest airline groups in the world. In addition, Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways are working to test the solution in the coming months,” it said.

Source: Sur in English, February 2021.

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