International Air Transport Association (IATA) has run trials on its Travel Pass that it hopes to roll out next month across the world. It is in talks with Indian authorities and airlines for being allowed for use here also.
The IATA Travel Pass will “enable travellers to create a digital passport (with flight details they are supposed to take). Verify their testing and vaccination requirements (destination-wise). Find authorised labs at departure location that meet the testing/vaccination requirements. The labs will securely send test result/vaccination certificates to passengers,” says IATA. Depending on the test result, passengers will then share “ok to travel” status with airlines and border control.
This will happen in a series of steps: Getting proof of test/vaccination: A passenger will feed his/her flight details on the app; find out ravel requirement; get list of authorised labs at origin city and show the app at the lab when he/she goes for testing/vaccination. Verifying that the test/vaccination is valid for the itinerary. Sharing proof of test/vaccination with airlines and border control.
Since the outbreak of Covid early last year and then the subsequent testing requirements for a Covid negative certificate there have been several cases of forged certificates being given by some unscrupulous labs.
Since checking the validity of paper certificates is not easy, apps are being designed to digitise the process completely and minimise the chances of fraudulent testing/vaccination certificates.
Different states have different testing requirements. Asked if the app can be used to facilitate domestic travel, Goel said: “While the app is fundamentally designed for international travel, it can be modified for domestic travel also.”
IATA carried out a pilot of the travel pass with Singapore Airlines in the last quarter of 2020 and then with some other airlines like Emirates this year. It plans to roll out the pass next month.
The pandemic made 2020 “the worst year for air travel demand.” IATA says 2020 saw demand plunge by 65.9% compared to the full year of 2019, “by far the sharpest traffic decline in aviation history.” International passenger demand in 2020 was 75.6% below 2019 levels. Domestic demand in 2020 was down 48.8% compared to 2019.
The global economy has been left shattered and travel industry — airlines, airports, hotels and other stakeholders — are struggling to survive. All attempts are now being made to revive travel by taking all required precautions like testing, vaccination and following Covid protocol of social distancing and heightened sanitisation.
Some countries like Seychelles have started exempting travellers from quarantine if they have taken the complete dose of Covid vaccines and have a negative test result.
What happens to the app once — hopefully soon — Covid is over? “It can continued to be used for contactless, biometric travel long after the pandemic. Yellow fever vaccination certificate required by some countries from travellers, for instance, is at the moment a paper certificate. All these requirements can be digitised,” said Vinoop Goel, IATA regional director for Asia Pacific (airports and external relations).