The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is expecting that its digital Covid Travel Pass will be ready for roll-out in a matter of weeks.
The pass is an app that verifies a passenger has had the Covid-19 tests or vaccines required to enter a country.
This was disclosed by Vinoop Goel, IATA’s regional director of airports and external relations who said,
“The key issue is one of confidence. Passengers need to be confident that the testing they’ve taken is accurate and will allow them to enter the country.
“And then governments need to have the confidence that the tests that the passengers claim to have are one which is accurate and meets their own conditions.
“We are currently working with a number of airlines worldwide and learning from these pilots. And the plan is to go live in March.
“So basically we expect to have a fully functional working system over the next few weeks.
“We do have a case in the Republic of Korea that does require a paper certificate, so we are working with the government there to ensure 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 that it can work with other digital solutions that are being trialed around the world.
- The App will be available on iOS and Android platforms and to be free to passengers.
- Singapore Airlines was the first airline to start trials of the travel pass in December.
- Etihad, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Air New Zealand are among the other airlines currently conducting trials, and IATA says it is discussing the pass with most airlines throughout the Asia Pacific region.
- It is to be noted that the closest paper equivalent to the app is the Yellow Card, a World Health Organization document which confirms passengers have been vaccinated.
- The airline industry plummeted nearly 70% in 2020 compared to 2019, as Covid dealt a serious blow on the operators and the industry.
Why this matters
The pass is being seen as essential for reopening air travel, as many countries still have strict restrictions or quarantines in place.
An app has become quite essential considering the high level of risk of fraud associated with paper certificates.
According to BBC News report, “Europol recently revealed that a forgery ring in France had been selling negative test results to passengers at Charles de Gaulle Airport and fraudsters had also been apprehended in the UK for selling forged results”.
In many other countries, there have been large-scale frauds of forging negative results for passengers, with several law enforcement officers indicted in the acts.
The industry is hoping for a recovery in 2021, but it’s unlikely that the vaccine rollout will solve the problem immediately, which is part of the reason IATA thinks the Travel Pass is needed.