Another good start to the week: IATA’s Travel Pass in final phases

Another good start to the week: IATA’s Travel Pass in final phases

GENEVA — The IATA Travel Pass, a digital health pass that will support the safe reopening of borders, is in the final development phase.

IATA says the pass will manage and verify the secure flow of necessary testing or vaccine information among governments, airlines, laboratories and travellers. IATA notes that governments are beginning to use testing as a means of limiting the risks of COVID-19 importation when re-opening their borders to travellers without quarantine measures.

IATA will be bringing the pass to market in the coming months to meet the needs of the various travel bubbles and public health corridors that are starting operation, said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

IATA has been working with British Airways parent company IAG to develop the pass, and says it will undertake a trial to demonstrate that the new platform, combined with COVID-19 testing, can reopen international travel and replace quarantine.

The first cross-border IATA Travel Pass pilot is scheduled for later this year and the launch slated for Q1 2021.

Mondays are bringing good news lately. Three weeks in a row the travel industry has been greeted on Monday morning with positive developments on the vaccine front, from Pfizer, Moderna and, just today, AstraZeneca. Coupled with today’s announcement that the IATA Travel Pass is in its final stages, the industry can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And after so many months, the industry will take all the good news that it can get.

“BORDERS ARE ‘DOUBLE LOCKED’”

Throughout the pandemic IATA has called for systematic COVID-19 testing of all international travellers.

IATA says the information flow infrastructure needed to enable this must support:

  • Governments with the means to verify the authenticity of tests and the identity of those presenting the test certificates
  • Airlines with the ability to provide accurate information to their passengers on test requirements and verify that a passenger meets the requirements for travel
  • Laboratories with the means to issue digital certificates to passengers that will be recognized by governments, and;
  • Travellers with accurate information on test requirements, where they can get tested or vaccinated, and the means to securely convey test information to airlines and border authorities.

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, borders are “double locked,” says de Juniac.

De Juniac adds: “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.”

He says IATA Travel Pass incorporates four open sourced and interoperable modules which can be combined for an end-to-end solution:

  • Global registry of health requirements – enables passengers to find accurate information on travel, testing and eventually vaccine requirements for their journey.
  • Global registry of testing / vaccination centres – enables passengers to find testing centres and labs at their departure location which meet the standards for testing and vaccination requirements of their destination.
  • Lab App – enables authorized labs and test centers to securely share test and vaccination certificates with passengers.
  • Contactless Travel App – enables passengers to (1) create a ‘digital passport’, (2) receive test and vaccination certificates and verify that they are sufficient for their itinerary, and (3) share testing or vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel. This app can also be used by travellers to manage travel documentation digitally and seamlessly throughout their journey, improving travel experience.

The airline industry demands a cost effective, global, and modular solution to safely restart travel. IATA Travel Pass is based on industry standards and IATA’s proven experience in managing information flows around complex travel requirements.

Other IATA innovations amid the pandemic include IATA’s Timatic, used by most airlines to manage compliance with passport and visa regulations. IATA says Timatic will be the base for the global registry and verification of health requirements.

Meanwhile IATA’s One ID initiative was endorsed by a resolution at its 2019 AGM to securely facilitate travel processes with a single identity token. One ID will be the base for the IATA Contactless Travel App for identity verification that will also manage the test and vaccination certificates.

“Our main priority is to get people travelling again safely,” says Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President, Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security. “In the immediate term that means giving governments confidence that systematic COVID-19 testing can work as a replacement for quarantine requirements. And that will eventually develop into a vaccine program. The IATA Travel Pass is a solution for both. And we have built it using a modular approach based on open source standards to facilitate interoperability. It can be used in combination with other providers or as a standalone end-to-end solution. The most important thing is that it is responsive to industry’s needs while enabling a competitive market.”