The International Air Transport Association is expecting to release an app within weeks that verifies whether a passenger has had Covid-19 tests or vaccines required to enter a country.
IATA said the main priority is to get people travelling again safely and believes its Travel Pass could be a global standardised solution.
“To reopen borders without quarantines means governments need accurate information on passengers’ Covid-19 health status,” IATA said.
“Challenges include the fragmented and diverse set of Covid-19 testing requirements for entry and exit, as well as the different types of tests (PCR, LAMP, antigen and spectroscopic) required by governments,” it added.
“The key issue is one of confidence,” said Vinoop Goel, IATA’s regional director of airports and external relations. “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 is one which is accurate and meets their own conditions.”
IATA Travel Pass is designed in a modular way, so that it can work with other digital solutions being trialled around the world.
The travel trade association said it will be available on iOS and Android platforms, and is hoping to offer it free to passengers.
Singapore Airlines was the first airline to start trials of the travel pass in December and Etihad, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Air New Zealand are currently conducting trials.
IATA says the risk of fraud with paper documents is too great, hence the digital approach
IATA is hoping its move can aid a recovery in the airline industry in 2021 having seen demand plummet nearly 70% in 2020 compared to 2019.
IATA believes the airline industry will take up to two years to recover and any recovery likely ultimately dependent on the availability of vaccine globally.
“We see a combination of testing and vaccination as being the long term solution to reopening borders,” said Conrad Clifford, IATA’s regional vice-president for the Asia Pacific region.