IATA Travel Pass to instill confidence in restarting the industry


From a weak start to 2021, the latest IATA projections suggest that demand for air travel this year would be 38% of 2019 levels in an optimistic scenario and 33% of 2019 levels if travel restrictions remain widespread. .

While the slow recovery is bad news for the industry and the global economy, it is alleviating at least one short-term problem: Immigration lines at airports are piling up. Heathrow, for example, suffered seven-hour delays according to some reports.

The problem is not limited to border control either. As Alan Murray Hayden, Head of Airlines, Airports, and Security and Operational Solutions Compliance at IATA, points out, “Airports operate with essentially the same check-in capacity, but only 10% of passengers.” .

Essentially, the new COVID measures make it extremely difficult to effectively deal with passengers. Heathrow’s situation is by no means unique, as governments around the world are implementing a kaleidoscope of health demands.

“The restart of the industry is simply not sustainable unless we automate COVID documentation at border control and other passenger touchpoints,” Hayden said. “This is why the IATA Travel Pass is so important. For convenience, you need all relevant COVID documentation in a mobile digital format. “

Liability of the airline

The IATA Travel Pass app will contain all the passenger information necessary for safe and efficient travel. It will inform passengers about the tests, vaccines and other measures they need before travel, details of where they can get tested and, most importantly, the ability to share their tests and vaccination results in a verifiable way that protects also privacy.

The aim is to give airlines and governments accurate information on the state of passenger health in the face of COVID-19 and therefore the confidence that they can restart their operations and reopen the borders.

The IATA Travel Pass does not add any unnecessary data elements to promote this goal. It simply facilitates the exchange of information. Indeed, Hayden points out that government buy-in is not essential to the success of the app. “Checking that a passenger has the correct papers has always been a responsibility of the airline, so IATA Travel Pass is good to use immediately,” he says. “Vaccination certificates or test results are just another check.

“In the longer term, of course, government involvement will make life easier, especially in approving health details presented in digital form rather than on paper. Border controls say they need certain information but are less open about how that information should be presented. “

The ICAO Aviation Recovery Working Group (CART) has updated its guidelines for COVID-19 testing and globally accepted vaccination certificates, including the technology framework for the secure creation of digital versions . These recommendations are now included in the ICAO Manual on Transboundary Risk Management Tests and Measures. A recent IATA poll indicated that 89% of respondents believe governments need to standardize vaccination and testing certificates. This will be an essential part of maximizing the benefits of the IATA Travel Pass.

CART, however, recommended that travelers should not necessarily be vaccinated for international travel.

Industrial solution

A full trial of the IATA Travel Pass has started with Singapore Airlines. Passengers on the carrier’s flights between Singapore and London can use the IATA Travel Pass to:

  • Create a secure digital version of their passport on their mobile device
  • Enter their flight details for restrictions and travel requirements
  • Receive verified test results and confirmation that they meet all travel requirements

JoAnn Tan, Acting Senior Vice President, Marketing Planning, Singapore Airlines, said: “Digital health credentials will be critical as borders reopen and travel restrictions are phased out in the world. whole world. The successful implementation of the IATA Travel Pass reflects Singapore Airlines’ goal of using secure digital solutions to verify health information and support a safe and transparent travel experience for our customers. “

Airlines in all parts of the world are working with IATA ahead of the official rollout at the end of the first quarter of 2021. Travelers should be able to download the app from mid-March. Once they import their route, they will see the requirements, get tested, and then be able to incorporate subsequent results and documentation.

The IATA Travel Pass is built in modules as an industrial solution based on open source standards. It can be used in combination with other vendors or as an end-to-end solution.

“We will initially have about 90% of the functionality, but we will quickly reach all the functionality,” says Hayden. “We had to produce the minimum viable proposition as quickly as possible and the functionality that will come later is to add value. Everything you need is there from the start.

The App was born out of IATA’s work on contactless travel, and in particular One ID, which offers a passenger to have their identity verified once and then use an associated biometrics throughout the trip.

Identity management is a key part of proving medical condition, as fraud (false vaccination or test claims) is already widespread. IATA Travel Pass uses a digital version of a traveller’s passport, which is essential to gain the trust of governments.

Importantly, the core identity management is decentralized. It all happens on an individual’s phone and they only share information when requested by the airline. A traveler must approve the sharing and the details are passed directly to the airline.

An airline advisory group contributed to the further development of the app and the goal has always been to keep passenger requirements at the forefront.

Overwhelming response

Challenges had to be overcome. The complexity of the technology behind the application and the immaturity of this technology has resulted in a steep learning curve. IATA Travel Pass is one of the biggest projects ever to use blockchain on this scale, for example.

IATA also had to manage expectations following a massive response from airlines interested in developing the IATA Travel Pass. Although all sang from the same hymn sheet and all provided essential information regarding the different input and output measurements, types of tests and national standards, it was nonetheless a gigantic undertaking to integrate all the entries.

“We need to make it safe for people to travel again,” says Hayden. “We need to give everyone confidence that routine COVID-19 testing before departure or vaccine confirmation can replace quarantine requirements. “

The IATA Travel Pass will be a global solution by the end of the second quarter of 2021. However, it is not intended to exist in the long term and will eventually be integrated into the airlines’ own solutions.

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