Aviation industry develops mobile app for passengers to display COVID-19 vaccinations and coronavirus status before departure.
The global lobby of the airline IATA is working on a mobile app that travelers can use to demonstrate their coronavirus-free status and is supporting the introduction of so-called Covid passports as vaccines against the disease, which are about to be approved.
The Travel Pass shows the test results along with the vaccination certificate as well as the national entry requirements and details of the nearest laboratories, the International Air Transport Association announced on Monday. The app is also linked to an electronic copy of the holder’s passport to prove their identity.
A trial program will begin this year with British Airways’ parent company, IAG SA, before it becomes available on Apple devices in the first quarter and on Android devices from April, according to IATA. Travelers can share their status with border authorities or show a QR code to scan.
Qantas Airways Ltd. said Monday that a Covid-19 vaccination will be a necessity for its international passengers. Alan Joyce, chief executive officer, told Channel 9 in Australia that he had discussed the idea with other airlines and it was likely that it would become a pre-boarding requirement worldwide.
“It’s going to be a general topic,” said Joyce.
Airlines worldwide have suffered huge losses due to the coronavirus [Bloomberg]While international travel remains in the doldrums of local restrictions and lockdowns, countries are beginning to run tests to reduce or remove quarantines for incoming passengers. The first vaccines are expected to be available in the coming months. This led to a series of technology-driven measures to develop mechanisms to monitor travelers’ Covid credentials and combat false claims made by people who are desperate to fly.
Alan Murray Hayden, director of passenger and safety products for IATA, said in a briefing that the group’s goal is to get people back in the air and they would like to work with other providers.
[Bloomberg]The Travel Pass is free for travelers and governments. Airlines pay a small fee per passenger to use the service. It is based on the existing IATA Timatic system, which has long been used to check documents. The app will use block chain technology and will not store any data, Murray Hayden said.
The industry group has had positive discussions with a government about using the software and expects other nations to come on board, he said.
Although the IATA plan is still under development, the CommonPass app developed by the World Economic Forum and the nonprofit Commons Project Foundation has been tested on flights between London and New York, while the AOKpass from travel security firm International SOS between Abu Dhabi and Pakistan.
Both are in the running for the upcoming travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore, according to the company.
United Airlines, which is conducting the US-UK trials, announced on Monday that it would extend the Covid tests to flights from Houston to destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean. Passengers can take a self-collected mail-in test, which they can use to start their vacation or meetings immediately upon arrival.
The race is on the way to establishing a global standard and using technology to get the travel industry back on its feet, said Arnaud Vaissie, co-founder of International SOS, in an interview.
“There’s a massive pent-up demand,” he said. There is also “a tremendous fear of travel and that is what we are trying to mitigate.”