Air New Zealand tests the IATA pass

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Air New Zealand will ask passengers to use a digital health pass on flights to Australia as part of a trial of a ‘vaccination passport’ system allowing travelers to prove they have been immunized against COVID-19.

The Kiwi airline said on Monday it would test the industry-developed Travel Pass app on Auckland-Sydney flights for three weeks in April, showing a preview of what international travel will look like until the coronavirus is no longer a threat.

Air NZ will test the industry-developed Travel Pass app on Auckland-Sydney flights in April.
Credit:Mark Baker

Travel industry leaders expect vaccination against COVID-19 to become mandatory for international flights once vaccines have been widely distributed, with Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce saying in November that it would be mandatory to fly on his airline. Travelers entering Australia must already provide proof that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure.

Air New Zealand will be one of the first airlines to use the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Pass app, which passengers will link to their e-passport and take with them verified copies of test results and, to the future, vaccination records.

“Once borders reopen, travel will look very different, with customer health data having to be verified at check-in,” said Jennifer Sepull, the airline’s chief digital officer.

“It’s basically like having a digital health certificate that can be easily and securely shared with airlines. By having a place to digitally store all of your health credentials in one place, it will not only speed up the check-in process, but unlock the potential of contactless travel.

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The Travel Pass smartphone app will provide passengers with up-to-date information on the tests and vaccines they need to enter their destination. Participating healthcare providers will send verified test results or vaccination certificates directly to the app. Based on the passenger’s itinerary, the app will produce a simple “OK to travel” notification to satisfy both airlines and immigration authorities that they meet that country’s COVID-19 health requirements.

Use of the app is not mandatory during Air New Zealand’s trial and will likely only be used for test results, as no country in the world has made vaccination a requirement of travel. The airline said it was still discussing with government agencies how to validate test results and vaccination records.


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