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Airlines join forces, urge quick action for testing protocols & digital pass tech

TORONTO — The world’s airline alliances – Star Alliance, oneworld and SkyTeam – have joined forces to call on international governments to act quickly to adopt testing protocols and digital health pass technology to reopen borders in the wake of COVID-19.

The three alliances say they are in full support of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) updates to its Council on Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) report. 

The CART updates, released Nov. 10, include new guidelines with recommendations for countries to consider adopting per their current local medical status, and on specific priorities including general hygiene, masks and face coverings, health screening and declarations, air passengers with reduced mobility, and the mental health and well-being of aviation workers and passengers.

Star Alliance, oneworld and SkyTeam are urging governments to implement the CART report guidelines for passenger testing protocols, as well as the adoption of digital health pass technology, so air travel may safely resume.

“We welcome the publication of the updated CART report which, among other things, calls for the serious consideration of screening and testing as a means for easing travel and border restrictions, and reviving the travel and tourism industry and the global economy,” said Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh. “A robust protocol for testing will also provide further evidence to demonstrate that air travel is not a material cause for infections and will pave the way for a framework of trust to be established between countries.”

Between them the three alliances represent 58 member airlines and more than 60% of world airline capacity, carrying over 1.87 billion passengers annually prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

Star Alliance, oneworld and SkyTeam are calling for a harmonized approach to testing that will form the foundation of a trust framework, as recommended by the ICAO guidelines.

“Testing regimes and trials of digital health passes have identified means to restoring confidence and reopening borders, complementing the layer upon layer of passenger safety measures already implemented by airlines and airports worldwide,” says SkyTeam CEO Kristin Colvile.

She added: “Aviation supports millions of jobs around the world and drives international commerce, trade and tourism. Urgent action is needed to adopt testing and technology to mitigate COVID risks and safely and quickly revive international air travel.”

The recent digital ‘health pass’ trials, such as Common Pass, are presenting a strong case for using digital technology to deliver harmonised standards in the validation and verification of accredited passenger health data, say the airlines

The first transatlantic trial of CommonPass, a digital ‘COVID-passport’ that allows travellers to share their health status across international borders, was successfully completed in late October, marking a major milestone in the recovery of global travel.

The alliances say they support technical solutions that provide a consistent, scalable and affordable way to declare passenger health data that is simple to implement as part of the customer journey, with processes initiated pre-travel to reduce passenger inconvenience at airports.

“With extensive travel restrictions creating much uncertainty for customers, testing can play a role in enabling the safe restart of travel,” says oneworld CEO Rob Gurney. “Any solution used in declaring passenger health data should be consistent, scalable and cost effective – this will provide clarity and confidence to customers, airlines and other stakeholders as international travel resumes.”