A new app to help travelers store and manage their certifications for Covid-19 tests and vaccines is set to launch next month.
The IATA Travel Pass is being developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global trade association of which 290 airlines are a member.
The IATA hopes the free-to-use mobile app will be the key to reopening borders and getting the world flying again – without the need for quarantine.
Billing itself as “a global and standardized solution to validate and authenticate all country regulations regarding Covid-19 passenger travel requirements,” the Travel Pass app works in four ways.
First, there’s a global registry of health requirements, so passengers can check what’s needed in order to enter the destinations they hope to visit.
After that, travelers can check out the global registry of testing and vaccination centers so they can set up appointments before their departure.
Authorized labs and test centers can then securely share test and vaccination certificates with passengers through the app.
And finally, travelers can manage their digital identity for contactless travel: creating a digital version of their passport on their phone, receiving and sharing Covid-19 testing or vaccination certificates, and managing other travel documentation, too.
Says the IATA on its website, “To reopen borders without quarantine, governments need to be confident that they are mitigating
the risk of importing Covid-19. Testing or proof of vaccine is the solution.”
“Whatever governments plans are, we’ll be ready to help them with the IATA Travel Pass,” said IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac recently on his blog.
This new digital platform is a modernization of the existing system of paper test and vaccine certificates. At the moment it only deals with Covid-19 certification, but it has the potential to be expanded in the future according to need.
“Governments decide the requirements to travel; airlines and passengers need to comply,” says the IATA on its website, emphasizing that the airline body is not itself mandating that passengers must have a Covid-19 vaccine in order to travel.
The IATA Travel Pass will be free for passengers to download and use and the iOS and android launch is scheduled for the end of March.
Singapore Airlines will at that stage be the partner for the roll-out of the first full pilot, which is to be followed by a pilot with the International Airlines Group (IAG) and trials with around 20 airlines, including Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Copa Airlines and RwandAir.
The IATA Travel Pass isn’t the only solution in development. There are multiple travel passes primed to enter the market.
The nonprofit Commons Project Foundation’s cloud-designed CommonPass is already being used in a limited manner by airlines, while computing giant IBM has had a worldwide team working on its “Digital Health Pass” for nine months
The IATA Travel Pass is being built using four open-sourced interoperable modules that be can be used together as a whole solution or in combination with solutions created by other providers. Says the IATA, “We want it to be as flexible as possible.”
Nina dos Santos, Antonia Mortensen and Susanne Gargiulo contributed to this report.