Foreign airlines test-run new travel pass, ‘digital passport’
At least two foreign airlines have begun trial runs of the new travel pass created by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) – a mobile app to help passengers easily and securely manage their travel in line with any government requirements for COVID-19 testing or vaccine information.
IATA Travel Pass enables passengers to create a ‘digital passport’ to verify their pre-travel test or vaccination meets the requirements of the destination. They will also be able to share the test and vaccination certificates with authorities and airlines to facilitate travel.
The new app will also enable travellers to manage all travel documentation digitally and seamlessly throughout the travel experience.
As at Tuesday, United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) carriers – Emirates and Etihad – have enlisted into the programme.
Emirates airline, along with dnata, is among the first transport and air services organisations in the world to offer employees the option to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
The Emirates Group also rolled out the COVID-19 vaccination programme for its substantial UAE-based workforce in coordination with the Dubai Health Authority, and the Ministry of Health and Prevention. The inoculation drive began on Monday, January 18, with priority being placed on its frontline aviation workforce, including Cabin Crew, Flight Deck and other operationally focused roles.
Prior to a full rollout of the travel pass, Emirates will implement phase 1 in Dubai for the validation of COVID-19 PCR tests before departure.
In this initial phase, expected to begin in April, Emirates customers travelling from Dubai will be able to share their COVID-19 test status directly with the airline even before reaching the airport through the app, which will then auto-populate the details on the check-in system.
Emirates’ Chief Operating Officer, Adel Al Redha, said while international travel remains as safe as ever, there are new protocols and travel requirements with the current global pandemic.
“We have worked with IATA on this innovative solution to simplify and digitally transmit the information that is required by countries and governments into our airline systems, in a secure and efficient manner. We are proud to be one of the first airlines in the world to pilot this initiative, which will provide an enhanced customer experience and conveniently facilitate our customers’ travel needs.”
IATA Senior Vice President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security, Nick Careen, added that they were proud to work with Emirates to make IATA Travel Pass available in the Middle East region.
“With its global customer base and network traffic, Emirates as a partner will also bring invaluable input and feedback to improve the Travel Pass programme. This is the first step in making international travel during the pandemic as convenient as possible, giving people the confidence that they are meeting all COVID-19 entry requirements by governments.
“As borders re-open, IATA Travel Pass will be further enhanced with more capabilities to meet all governments testing or vaccination verification requirements and Emirates customers will be among the first to have these services.”
Within the IATA Travel Pass app, the integrated registry of travel requirements will also enable passengers to find accurate information on travel and entry requirements for all destinations regardless of where they are travelling from. It will also include a registry of testing and eventually vaccination centres – making it more convenient for passengers to find testing centres and labs at their departure location which meet the standards for testing and vaccination requirements of their destination.
The platform will also enable authorised labs and test centres to securely send test results or vaccination certificates to passengers. The global registry, managed by IATA, will manage and allow the secure flow of necessary information amongst all stakeholders and to provide a seamless passenger experience.
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