Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Global digital vaccination travel passport ready ‘within weeks’

As the pandemic continues, governments are preparing to only allow vaccinated tourists to enter their countries.

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A new “vaccine passport” app developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global grouping of 290 airlines, is due to be ready “within weeks”.

The travel pass is designed to verify a passenger has had the Covid-19 tests or vaccines required to enter a country. It also verifies they were administered by an approved authority.

According to reports, IATA is currently working with numerous airlines during the trial phase before getting involved with official government and health bodies.

Singapore Airlines was the first carrier to start trials of the travel pass in December, with Air New Zealand, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways set to trial the app from March or April.

As the pandemic continues, governments are preparing to only allow vaccinated tourists to enter their respective countries.

“The key issue is one of confidence. Passengers need to be confident that the testing they’ve taken is accurate and will allow them to enter the country.” said Vinoop Goel, IATA’s regional director of airports and external relations.

“And then governments need to have the confidence that the tests that the passengers claim to have is one which is accurate and meets their own conditions. We are currently working with a number of airlines worldwide and the plan is to go live in March.”

The app will be available on Android and iOS platforms, and will be “modular” so it can be adapted to match each country’s entry requirements.

“So basically we expect to have a fully functional working system over the next few weeks,” said Goel.

IATA hopes the free-to-use mobile app will be the key to reopening borders and getting the world flying again – without the need for quarantine.

Billing itself as “a global and standardised solution to validate and authenticate all country regulations regarding Covid-19 passenger travel requirements”, the Travel Pass app works in four ways.

First, there’s a global registry of health requirements, so passengers can check what’s needed in order to enter the destinations they hope to visit.

Second, travellers can check out the global registry of testing and vaccination centers so they can set up appointments before their departure.

Authorised labs and test centres can then securely share test and vaccination certificates with passengers through the app.

And finally, travellers can manage their digital identity for contactless travel: creating a digital version of their passport on their phone, receiving and sharing Covid-19 testing or vaccination certificates, and managing other travel documentation, too.

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