Covid-19 passport only way forward to revive aviation

Dubai - With the passage of time, the industry is looking for innovative ideas and solutions to beat the pandemic and make the air travel smoother and hassle-free.



By Team KT

Published: Tue 2 Mar 2021, 11:16 PM

The travel industry has severely been battered by the impact of Covid-19, resulting in millions of job cuts and billions of dollars in financial losses to airlines and airports across the globe. With the passage of time, the industry is looking for innovative ideas and solutions to beat the pandemic and make the air travel smoother and hassle-free. Industry players and analysts have come to a conclusion that the proposed Covid-19 digital passport is, apparently, the only way forward for survival and revival of the industry and the wider economy.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) has estimated that the aviation industry would continue to contract in 2021 with cash burn mounting to $75 to $90 billion in 2021, up from $48 billion losses it had predicted in December. Iata believes that the airlines cannot slash costs sufficiently to neutralise severe cash burn to avoid bankruptcies and preserve jobs in 2021. It has stressed that reopening borders with pre-flight Covid-19 tests can help sustain airlines financially and avoid massive employment terminations. And reopening of borders is possible provided the Covid-19 digital passport is introduced which provides certification, verification and other important details like pre-travel eligibility requirements for the destination.

The Covid-19 digital passport – an app – will authenticate all country travel and health regulations, manage all documentation digitally and facilitate seamless travel. Currently, these platforms are being developed at different levels across the globe. Iata is working with airlines around the world, including the UAE-based Emirates and Etihad Airways, to launch “Iata Travel Pass” to help passengers easily and securely manage their travel in line with government requirements for Covid-19 tests or vaccines. Similarly, at the GCC level, work is in progress to introduce the Covid-19 digital passport.

As reported by Khaleej Times late last month, the unified GCC health passport – an advanced form of the UAE’s Al Hosn mobile app – will authenticate all country travel and health regulations, manage all documentation digitally and facilitate seamless travel. Different countries, especially which attract a large of foreign tourists, are also working in their individual capacity to launch health passports to revive their economies. According to Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at London-based StrategicAero Research, Iata should be leading from the front ideally to work with all airlines, governments and associated stakeholders to produce a uniform app or form that allows travellers to fly and be accepted overseas without hassle. Though vaccine passports are gaining traction and trumpet them as a way out for the hard-hit tourism and airline industries, others are more sceptical with only a tiny percentage of the world’s population vaccinated. Despite such scepticism, Covid-19 digital passport seems to be best available options and the only way forward for aviation economies to recover from the pandemic.


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