IATA (the International Air Transport Association) lunches a digital platform to ease virus testing and travel.
Global airline lobby IATA is working on a mobile app that will help travellers demonstrate their coronavirus-free status, joining a push to introduce so-called ‘COVID passports’ as vaccines for the disease are near approval.
The Travel Pass will display test results together with proof of inoculation, as well as listing national entry rules and details on the nearest labs, the International Air Transport Association said. The app will also link to an electronic copy of the holder’s passport to prove their identity.
A test program will begin with British Airways’ parent IAG this year before arriving on Apple devices in the first quarter and Android from April, IATA said.
Travellers will be able to share their status with border authorities or present a QR code for scanning.
The announcement came as Qantas Group CEO and former IATA chairman Alan Joyce said the airline would make vaccination compulsory for passengers on international flights from 2021 through the adoption of a digital “vaccination passport”.
While international travel remains in the doldrums amid a patchwork of local restrictions and lockdowns, countries are beginning to embrace testing to shorten or do away with quarantines for arriving passengers.
The first vaccines are meanwhile expected to become available in coming months in the US and UK and as early as March 2021 in Australia.
That’s prompted a spate of technology-led moves to devise mechanisms to monitor travellers’ COVID credentials and combat false claims from people desperate to fly.
IATA’s head of passenger and security products, Alan Murray Hayden, said in a briefing that the group’s aim is to get people into the air again and that it would be happy to work alongside other providers.
How IATA’s Travel Pass app will work.
Travel Pass will be free to traveller’s and governments, with airlines paying a small fee per passenger to use the service.
It will be based on the existing IATA Timatic system long used to verify documents. The app will use block-chain technology and will not store data, Murray Hayden said.
The industry group has had positive discussions with one government around using the software and expects other nations to get on board, he said.
Though IATA’s plan remains in development, the CommonPass app developed by the World Economic Forum and non-profit Commons Project Foundation has been tested on flights between London and New York, while the AOKpass from travel security firm International SOS is in use between Abu Dhabi and Pakistan.
Both are in the running for the pending travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore, according to the companies.
United Airlines, which is conducting the U.S.-U.K. trials, said Monday it would extend Covid testing to flights from Houston to destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Passengers can take a self-collected, mail-in test, allowing them to start their vacation or meetings immediately on arrival.
The race is on to establish a global standard and deploy technology so the travel industry can get back on its feet.
Let’s start getting our heads around this as it will be the future of travel.
Edited by: Joe Cusmano