The first group of air travellers using the International Air Transport Association’s Travel Pass app landed at London’s Heathrow Airport on a Singapore Airlines flight.
Passengers who used the app were able to create a digital version of their passport on their mobile device, receive verified test results and check Covid-related travel restrictions at the country they were travelling to.
“The significance of this [successful implementation of Iata Travel Pass] to re-starting international aviation cannot be overstated,” Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director general and chief executive, said in a statement on Thursday.
“[This] success is a big win for many parties. It gives travellers a one-stop-shop to help them comply with the new rules for travel,” Mr de Juniac said.
The Travel Pass app acts as a digital health passport that allows travellers to share Covid-19 test and vaccine certificates with airport authorities, airlines and governments.
It helps travellers securely manage their journeys in line with government directive that require testing or information about a person’s Covid-19 vaccine status.
Aviation industry stakeholders are increasingly advocating the use of such apps to revive passenger travel demand. Global passenger traffic in 2020 fell by nearly two-thirds from 2019, making it the worst year in aviation history for travel demand, according to Iata.
Digital health credentials will be essential as borders reopen and travel restrictions are progressively lifted worldwide, Joann Tan, acting senior vice president of marketing planning at Singapore Airlines, said on Thursday.
The UAE's Etihad Airways and Emirates are already working with Iata to adopt its Travel Pass.
Etihad said its passengers will be able to use the app in the first quarter of this year. Emirates will begin trials in April before fully adopting it across its network.
The travel pass uses blockchain technology to encrypt users' data, eliminating the possibility of it being tampered with.
Users will stay in control of their data and decide the amount of information they would like to share, according to Alan Hayden, Iata’s head of airport, passenger and security products.
In a latest poll, Iata found nine out of 10 respondents agreed with the need for global standards to avoid confusion and inconvenience while travel and nearly 80 per cent said they were keen to use a mobile app to manage their travel credentials.