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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Qatar Airways first in region to trial ‘digital passports’


Airlines take a step towards restarting global air travel with a ‘Travel Pass’

Passengers travelling on Qatar Airways’ Doha-Istanbul route will become some of the first to try out the new IATA Travel Pass, making Qatar Airways the first airline in the Middle East to launch the new health passport starting March 11. 

The airline will be partnering with IATA, Qatar Ministry of Public Health, Primary Health Care Corporation and Hamad Medical Corporation for the trial. If successful, Qatar Airways will likely roll out the app on other routes.

Over the past few months, IATA has been testing out its Travel Pass app with various airlines including Emirates and Etihad. 

IATA Travel Pass | Source: IATA

“We have confidence in the credibility of the IATA Travel Pass as the industry’s most reliable and innovative solution given its strong data privacy compliance, long-standing entry rules engine and ability to provide an end-to-end solution,” said Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways Group. 

“We are proud to be at the forefront of trialling this platform, being one of the first globally and the first airline in the Middle East to trial the technology,” he added.

The IATA Travel Pass will register health requirements, which enables passengers to find information on travel destinations to bridging informations gaps.

It will also provide information on vaccination and Covid-19 testing centres to allow passengers to easily locate them upon departure and/or arrival.

The ‘lab app’ also enables authorised labs and test centres to securely send test results or vaccination certificates to passengers. Meanwhile the ‘travel pass app’ will allow passengers to create a ‘digital passport’, verify that their test or vaccination meets the regulations and share test or vaccination certificates with authorities to facilitate travel.

While the travel pass is a step forward towards restarting global air travel, there have been concerns about the app’s data protection services. For passengers, it can be difficult to keep their data secure, especially with the rise in cybercrimes around the world.

Governments, on the other hand, have to find a way to authenticate documents that could be forged or fraudulent. 

IATA says it is working on alleviating the concerns. 

“All passengers using IATA Travel Pass can be confident that their data is protected and governments can trust that the “OK to travel” means both a genuine credential and a verified identity,” assured Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO of IATA. 

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