TORONTO — Another major airline has come onboard to test IATA’s digital Travel Pass, as IATA indicates that the new app should be ready within weeks.
Air New Zealand says it will trial the IATA Travel Pass on its Auckland-Sydney route in April 2021.
The airline says with constantly changing entry and departure testing and paperwork requirements, it wants to streamline the health verification process to help passengers know what they need to take their next international trip safely.
Other carriers that have signed on to use the IATA Travel Pass include Emirates, Etihad, Copa and Singapore Airlines.
Air New Zealand’s Chief Digital Officer Jennifer Sepull says the goal is to enable passengers to seamlessly manage their digital travel documentation.
“Once borders reopen, travel is going to look very different, with customers’ health data needing to be verified at check-in. It’s essentially like having a digital health certificate that can be easily and securely shared with airlines. This will give customers peace of mind that they meet all travel requirements for the different countries around the world before they even get to the airport,” says Sepull.
IATA Travel Pass stores health credentials digitally in one place. As Sepull notes, “it will not only speed up the check-in process but unlock the potential for contactless travel.”
She adds the customer privacy is at the heart of the design. “There is no central database storing personal information – rather it is shared at the travellers’ discretion, in a safe and secure way.”
Passengers create a digital health wallet linked to their e-passport. Once travellers have been tested and/or vaccinated, labs send data to the traveller’s app. It then checks requirements for travel against the data. Travellers who meet those travel requirements will be given the ‘green tick’ to travel.
The BBC is reporting that IATA has indicated that its Travel Pass will be ready within weeks. “The plan is to go live in March,” IATA’s Regional Director of Airports and External Relations, Vinoop Goel, told the BBC.
Back in November 2020, when the IATA Travel Pass was entering its final development phase, IATA’s Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said testing is the first key to enable international travel without quarantine measures. “The second key is the global information infrastructure needed to securely manage, share and verify test data matched with traveller identities in compliance with border control requirements. That’s the job of IATA Travel Pass.”
Canada’s travel restrictions, some of the strictest in the world, haven’t escaped IATA’s notice. In September 2020 IATA warned that the economic damage from Canada’s travel restrictions could become permanent if the government didn’t do more to support COVID-19 testing initiatives by Canada’s airlines.
And just last week IATA called on the Canadian government to begin planning for the gradual resumption of flights. “[Canada’s] policy actions to restrict the freedom of movement are taking a severe toll on people, businesses and the economy. To limit these effects, it is critical that the Government of Canada is prepared to progressively reconnect the country to the world when objective criteria give the decision makers the confidence that the epidemiological situation can safely permit this,” said de Juniac.