The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects its digital Covid travel pass to be ready to roll out within weeks.
The pass is an application that verifies that a passenger has passed the Covid-19 tests or the vaccines necessary to enter a country.
This was revealed by Vinoop Goel, regional director of airports and external relations of IATA who said,
“The key issue is one of trust. Passengers should be confident that the tests they have taken are accurate and will allow them to enter the country.
“And then governments need to be confident that the tests passengers claim to have are accurate and on their own terms.
“We are currently working with a number of airlines around the world and learning from those pilots. And the plan is to go live in March.
“So we basically expect to have a fully functional working system within the next few weeks.
“We have a case in the Republic of Korea that requires a paper certificate, so we are working with the government there to make sure they will allow digital certificates to be accepted.”
What you should know
- According to IATA, the Travel Pass is designed in a “modular” way, so it can work with other digital solutions being tested around the world.
- The application will be available on iOS and Android platforms and will be free for passengers.
- Singapore Airlines was the first airline to begin trials of the travel pass in December.
- Etihad, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Air New Zealand are among other airlines currently conducting trials, and IATA said it was discussing the pass with most airlines in the Asia-Pacific region.
- It should be noted that the closest paper equivalent to the application is the yellow card, a document from the World Health Organization which confirms that passengers have been vaccinated.
- The airline industry fell nearly 70% in 2020 compared to 2019 as Covid dealt a serious blow to operators and the industry.
why it matters
The pass is considered essential for the reopening of air travel, as many countries still have strict restrictions or quarantines in place.
An application has become essential given the high level of fraud risk associated with paper certificates.
According to the BBC News report, “Europol recently revealed that a counterfeit ring in France was selling negative test results to passengers at Charles de Gaulle airport and that fraudsters had also been apprehended in the UK for selling false results.
In many other countries, there have been large-scale frauds involving forging negative passenger outcomes, with several law enforcement officers charged.
The industry is hoping for a recovery in 2021, but rolling out the vaccine is unlikely to immediately solve the problem, which is part of why IATA thinks the Travel Pass is necessary.