Iata Travel Pass flies first passenger, milestone for safe restart in air travel sector
Digital health credentials would be essential as borders reopen and travel restrictions get progressively lifted worldwide
The first traveller using the Iata Travel Pass — an app that manages the health credentials of a passenger — arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport from Singapore on Thursday, marking a milestone in global efforts to safely restart aviation after a year of pandemic disruptions.
The International Air Transport Association (Iata) said the successful implementation of its Travel Pass in this trial with Singapore Airlines passengers signifies that “there is light at the end of the very long tunnel".
The trial 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.
“Efficiently and securely handling health credentials — vaccine and testing certificates — will be essential to an efficient restart. We believe that the Iata Travel Pass will play a major role in that. And this trial implementation is a major milestone on the way to the app release in April,” said de Juniac.
“In sum, there is light at the end of the very long tunnel. More and more people are being vaccinated. While we believe that vaccines will play an important role in opening borders, they are not a silver bullet. Testing will also play a role. That will ensure that those who cannot be, or prefer not to be vaccinated, will have an opportunity to travel,” said the outgoing Iata chief.
JoAnn Tan, acting senior vice-president for marketing planning at Singapore Airlines, said digital health credentials would be essential as borders reopen and travel restrictions get progressively lifted worldwide.
“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.”
Passengers on Singapore Airlines flights from Singapore to London during the trial could use the Travel Pass to create a secure digital version of their passport on their mobile device. They can input their flight details to learn of travel restrictions and requirements and receive verified test results and a confirmation that they meet all travel requirements.
“Today’s success is a big win for many parties. 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,” said de Juniac.
To gain maximum benefit from Iata Travel Pass and avoid confusion and inconvenience for passengers, the standardisation of test or vaccination certifications, and their acceptance by authorities is key, he added.
Iata postpones AGM, wants it face-to-face
Meanwhile, Iata on Thursday announced the postponement of its annual general meeting and the World Air Transport Summit. Originally scheduled on June 27-29 in Boston, the event will now be held on October 3-5, hosted by JetBlue Airways, also in Boston.
“We believe that it is vital to do all we can to meet as an industry face-to-face. Doing so will affirm that airlines can safely connect the world, demonstrate our industry’s resilience, and confirm the inestimable value of in-person meetings, facilitated by aviation,” de Juniac said in a statement.
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