The International Air Transport Association's (IATA) new app for managing COVID-19 testing and vaccination certificates has completed a successful trial run at London’s Heathrow Airport.
The “IATA Travel Pass,” announced in November 2020, was developed to enhance compliance with health requirements for air passengers amid the global pandemic.
The digital platform allows authorized labs and test centres to securely send test results or vaccination certificates to passengers, offering a more seamless experience.
Digital credentials “will be essential”
Singapore Airlines was the first airline to test the new technology, IATA reported on Wednesday (March 17).
“The successful implementation of IATA Travel Pass in this trial with Singapore Airlines passengers demonstrates that technology can securely, conveniently and efficiently help travellers and governments to manage travel health credentials. The significance of this to re-starting international aviation cannot be overstated,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, in a statement.
JoAnn Tan, acting senior vice-president, marketing planning at Singapore Airlines, said that digital health credentials “will be essential” as borders reopen and travel restrictions get lifted.
“The successful implementation of the IATA Travel Pass reflects Singapore Airlines’ goal of using secure digital solutions to verify health credentials, and support a safe and seamless travel experience for our customers.”
A one-stop shop
Passengers on Singapore Airlines flights from Singapore to London during the trial could use IATA Travel Pass to:
- Create a secure digital version of their passport on their mobile device
- Input their flight details to learn of travel restrictions and requirements
- Receive verified test results and a confirmation that they meet all travel requirements
“Today’s success is a big win for many parties,” said de Juniac. “It gives travellers a one-stop-shop to help them comply with the new rules for travel. It shows that governments can efficiently manage these travel requirements with complete confidence in the identity of the passenger and the veracity of the travel credentials—importantly, avoiding long queues.”
“And it’s a purpose-built means for airlines to manage the new travel requirements without drowning in inefficient and ineffective paper processes.”
A "workable digital solution"
Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice-president airport, passenger, cargo and security, said the IATA Travel Pass is “real-life proof” that the airline industry has a “workable digital solution” that will ease the pressure of implementing health checks into the travel process, including at borders.
“Airlines understand that their ground operations will grind to a halt if they have to manage COVID-19 travel requirements—test results or vaccine certifications—with paper documentation,” said Careen, noting how the U.K is ahead in mapping a way to re-starting international travel.
He said the trial is an opportunity for IATA to work with the UK government to “demonstrate that the solution works” and to share the results with others IATA builds a robust and efficient system that will “help the world get moving again.”
IATA recently surveyed travellers and found that 89% agree with the need for global standards and 80% are keen to use a mobile app to manage their travel credentials.
Survey participants also sent a clear message on the importance of data security.
Some 78% said they will not use an app if they are not in full control of their data and about 60% said they will not use it if data is stored centrally.
Last Friday, ICAO moved the establishment of global standards for testing/vaccination certifications a step closer to reality.
Next governments need to provide a digital COVID-19 test/vaccination certificate when people are tested or vaccinated so they have a verifiable document on their mobile device.
This, IATA says, will ensure acceptance of COVID-19 certifications for passengers when they travel around the world.
Singapore Airlines is one of several airlines around the world on board to test the IATA Travel Pass.
Air New Zealand, Copa Airlines, Etihad Airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Malaysia Airlines, RwandAir and Thai Airways (including Thai Smile) have all signed up to give the pass a go.
Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!