Etihad Airways and Emirates to trial Iata's Travel Pass

Mobile app is designed to help passengers navigate Covid-19 travel restrictions and securely share test and vaccine certificates

The International Air Transport Association and Etihad Airways are partnering to launch the IATA Travel Pass for the Abu Dhabi airline's passengers. Courtesy Etihad Airways.
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Etihad Airways and Emirates are working with the International Air Transport Association to adopt its Travel Pass, a mobile app that allows travellers to store and share Covid-19 test and vaccine certificates with airlines and governments.

Etihad said that its passengers will be able to use the digital health passport in the first quarter of this year.

If the move is successful, the Travel Pass will be extended to other destinations on the Etihad network, the airline said.

"A high priority for Etihad is for our guests to have an easy, secure and efficient way to identify and verify their information," said Mohammad Al Bulooki, chief operating officer of the Etihad Aviation Group.

Our aim is to give all governments the confidence to re-open borders to travellers based on verified vaccine and testing data

Emirates will trials the Travel Pass before fully adopting it across its network, the airline said. The first phase will begin in Dubai in April to allow for the validation of Covid-19 PCR tests before departure.

"We have worked with Iata on this innovative solution to simplify and digitally transmit the information that is required by countries and governments into our airline systems, in a secure and efficient manner," said Adel Al Redha, Emirates' chief operating officer.

Iata has said the Travel Pass will allow borders to be reopened safely and will replace quarantine measures by offering a globally accepted way to verify Covid-19 test and vaccine certificates.

"We are committed to building a modular travel pass whose functions will work cost-effectively with other solutions," said Iata's director general Alexandre de Juniac on January 18.

"And we need governments to be committed to accepting the global standards that will make this possible."

Flying safely during the pandemic

Emirates and Etihad Airways join Singapore Airlines in introducing the digital health verification pass.

Singapore Airlines said it was the first operator to trial Iata's Travel Pass.

The service was initially offered from December 23 to passengers flying from Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.

The airline said it may extend the service to other cities in its destination network if the trial is successful.

"Our aim is to give all governments the confidence to reopen borders to travellers based on verified vaccine and testing data," said Nick Careen, Iata's senior vice president of airport, passenger, cargo and security operations.

The airline industry body, which represents about 280 airlines worldwide, has urged governments to replace traffic-stifling quarantine measures with Covid-19 testing.

The Iata mobile app will contain a registry of entry requirements, a list of test or vaccine centres and a digital identity to verify the owner of the certificate.

It will allow passengers to securely upload test or vaccine certificates on their phones and share them when required to do so.

Iata said travellers will remain in control of their data and their privacy will be protected as the Travel Pass does not store any information centrally.

"Interoperability is not just about what we build. It also depends on what governments will accept," said Mr de Juniac.

"Too often, governments choose to go their own way rather than adopt established global standards. We cannot afford the delays and complexities that this will bring."

Iata hopes the Travel Pass will revive passenger travel demand after a weak recovery stalled in November.

Governments have increased travel restrictions in response to the emergence of new and more virulent Covid-19 strains.