‘Covid passports’ in UAE explained: Will you need one?

KT file photo
KT file photo

Dubai - In the UAE, national carriers Etihad Airways and Emirates are now testing the system on select flights.



By Suneeti Ahuja and Waheed Abbas

Published: Tue 20 Apr 2021, 6:21 PM

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, anyone who wants to travel need to do more than book a ticket and check in for a flight. Now, travellers are expected to first check all the requirements and tick several boxes before a trip — from testing rules to proof of vaccination. Governments around the world have different sets of criteria, too. Some information could even be confusing. This is the problem a ‘digital Covid passport’ is trying to solve.

One of the forerunners is the IATA Travel Pass, which seeks to serve as a one-stop shop for keeping records, verification, and sharing Covid-related documents to airlines and authorities.

Twenty-seven airlines around the globe are either running or planning trials of this pass developed by the International Air Travel Association (IATA).

In the UAE, national carriers Etihad Airways and Emirates are now testing the system on select flights. Etihad launched the service on Tuesday, making it available to passengers travelling from Abu Dhabi to Chicago, New York, Washington and Toronto. Emirates, on the other hand, has started the pilot last week for flights from Dubai to Barcelona and from Heathrow, London, to Dubai.

How does the IATA Travel Pass work? For passengers, it is a mobile application, which will have an integrated registry of travel and entry requirements for all destinations, regardless of one’s itinerary. It allows users to manage their health credentials digitally. For example, instead of keeping papers of PCR test results and presenting them at check in, a passenger can share them with the airline through the app.

“The app gives travellers a one-stop shop to help them comply with the new rules for travel, and for governments complete assurance in the identity of the passenger and the authenticity of the travel credentials being presented,” said Nick Careen, senior vice-president for airport, passenger, cargo and security at IATA.

A standardised global travel pass can eliminate confusion, provide accurate information on the documents needed, and allow passengers to upload them on one app, which can be accessed by different airlines and government authorities. Such a system when accepted globally will eliminate health check inefficiencies, errors and fraud.

“With the dynamically changing health requirements for travel, Etihad believes that a digital health passport solution will provide additional clarity and ease for travellers,” said Mohammad Al Bulooki, chief operating officer of the Etihad Aviation Group.

In an earlier statement, Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ chief operating officer, agreed that processing passengers’ Covid-related data “will be the way forward”. W’e are pleased to have been pioneers and partners with IATA in trying out this initiative in real time and soon will be launching other initiatives to further enhance our customers’ experience,” he said.

IATA Travel Pass: How it can help

>> Enables passengers to find information on travel, testing and vaccine requirements for an air travel

>> Helps them find testing centres and laboratories that can conduct Covid-19 tests in accordance with the type of test required for your journey

>> Allows authorised labs and test centres to securely send test results or vaccination certificates to passengers

>> Verifies whether a passenger’s test or vaccination meets the regulations

>> Shares test or vaccination certificates with authorities to facilitate travel

>> Allow passengers to manage travel documentation digitally throughout the travel experience

Select Etihad passengers can now try the IATA travel pass

Etihad Airways on Tuesday rolled out the IATA Travel Pass app for its passengers travelling from Abu Dhabi to Chicago, New York, Washington and Toronto.

To participate in the trial, passengers need to download the IATA Travel Pass app and book an appointment with Life Diagnostics at the Sultan Bin Zayed the First Street or BioGenix Labs at Masdar City. At the clinic, guests will have to inform the reception that they are participating in the trial and should be ready to show their passport and mobile device with the app.

Once the test result is ready, travellers will be able to view it on both the IATA Travel Pass app and through the testing clinic’s own digital platform.

Guests participating in the IATA Travel Pass pilot will benefit from priority queue access at Life Diagnostics and Biogenix Labs for their PCR test, faster check-in at the airport, and a free 90mb WiFi voucher for in-flight purchases.

Those who do not wish to participate in the trial may continue to follow the existing method of sharing PCR test results with Etihad by presenting a printed copy of their results at check in.

waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com

suneeti@khaleejtimes.com


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