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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Digital travel pass set to take-off this month


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said it will officially launch its digital Travel Pass on Apple store this month.

A digital Travel Pass is set to come into play this month, IATA announced, as part of efforts to make global travel a lot smoother for millions around the world.

IATA Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, Kamil Alawadhi, said the long-awaited Travel Pass will be made available on IOS around April 15 before then being rolled out to Android devices, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The digital health verification app enables people to create a secure digital version of their passports with their vaccination certificate and Covid-19 test results linked to it.

All needed documents will be accessible and available at all times via personal mobile phones.

However, “the application will only achieve its success once airlines, different countries, airports adopt it,” Alawadhi added.

A number of carriers have already signed up for trials. These include Air Baltic, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Hong Kong Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Rwandair, and Virgin Atlantic, according to the Business Traveller. 

Qatar Airways will also be one of the three largest airlines in the Gulf region to conduct trials of the digital pass. 

“A huge amount of airlines have requested to be on board,” Alawadhi said.

Read also: Qatar mulls ‘Gulf passport’ to allow regional travel for vaccinated people

IATA stressed that all personal information will be secured and encrypted “which means it will not be stored on a central database”.

The app verifies whether people are eligible to travel through an ‘OK to Travel’ status on their phones and is expected to help speed up check-ins at airports across the world.

“To re-open borders without quarantine and restart aviation governments need to be confident that they are effectively mitigating the risk of importing COVID-19. This means having accurate information on passengers’ Covid-19 health status,” IATA said on its website.

“Informing passengers on what tests, vaccines and other measures they require prior to travel, details on where they can get tested and giving them the ability to share their tests and vaccination results in a verifiable, safe and privacy-protecting manner is the key to giving governments the confidence to open borders,” IATA added, noting the Travel Pass will address all of these issues.

The digital travel pass was initially slated for the first quarter of this year, however, it is still currently in the testing phase.

On Friday, the UK-based carrier Virgin Atlantic confirmed it would trial the IATA app on its London to Barbados route from mid April.

Barbados has said it will accept the pass at its border, becoming one of the first countries to accept a digital pass instead of paper documentation, Reuters reported. 

Singapore Airlines also recently carried out its first successful trial of the app on an international flight from Singapore to London, reports said.

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