After months of confusion at airports, a new app may be the key to restoring a sense of normality when it comes to travel.
CommonPass is a digital health platform designed to enable smooth passage during the pandemic by allowing travellers to carry their Covid-19 test results in a standardised, global format, thus easing international air travel. And it's all set to be trialled this week.
Cathay Pacific and United Airlines will be testing the system with volunteers on flights between London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore, with government authorities taking note.
The goal of the trials is to replicate the full traveller experience – from taking a Covid-19 test prior to departure and uploading the result to the app, to demonstrating compliance with entry requirements at departure and arrival airports.
For Cathay Pacific, the first trial is planned for a flight between Hong Kong International Airport and Singapore Changi International Airport.
For United Airlines, volunteers will use the service for flights between London Heathrow Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport.
After these trials, CommonPass will be introduced to additional airlines and routes across Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East.
How CommonPass works
Travellers must take a Covid-19 test at a certified lab and upload the results to the CommonPass app from their mobile phones. They must then complete any additional health screening questionnaires required by the destination country.
CommonPass will confirm a traveller's compliance with the destination's entry requirements and generate a QR code, which can be scanned by airline staff and border officials through mobile phones. The QR codes can also be printed out.
The app was developed by The Commons Project, a US non-profit public trust supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.
"If there's a different system from every point of origin to every destination, then it's just going to be chaos," Paul Meyer, chief executive of The Commons Project, told The National in July.
The venture will also inform passengers of the requirements to cross international borders, such as testing and quarantine.