Etihad trials Iata Travel Pass on US and Canada routes until May 31

The digital travel passport allows users to upload pre-departure test results via an app

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Starting today, Etihad Airways passengers travelling to the US and Canada will be the first to trial the International Air Transport Association's Travel Pass, a coronavirus "digital travel passport" that allows users to upload pre-departure test results via an app.

Running until May 31, passengers travelling between Abu Dhabi to Chicago, New York, Washington and Toronto, can download the app and then book an appointment with an accredited testing facility.

At the clinic, guests can inform reception they are participating in the Iata Travel Pass trial and show their passport and mobile device with the app downloaded. Once the test result is ready, travellers will be able to view it on both the Iata Travel Pass app and through the testing clinic’s own digital platform.

Accredited testing facilities listed so far are Life Diagnostics at Sultan Bin Zayed the First Street and BioGenix Labs at Masdar City, both in Abu Dhabi.

Guests who do not wish to participate in the trial can continue to follow the existing method of sharing PCR test results with Etihad by presenting a printed copy of their results at check in.

An Etihad in-flight 'Wellness Ambassador'. Courtesy Etihad Airways

“Etihad has partnered with Iata so that together, a globally unified approach to a travel pass can be simplified to make travel easier once governments decide what regulations are required to cross borders in either direction,” said Mohammad Al Bulooki, the chief operating officer of Etihad Aviation Group.

Dubai's Emirates started its trial of the Iata Travel Pass last week on April 15, on its Dubai to Barcelona flight EK185. The trial is currently being conducted on select Emirates flights from Dubai to Barcelona, as well as London Heathrow to Dubai, but will soon be expanded to include other routes, the airline said.

The first group of air travellers using the Iata Travel Pass app landed at London's Heathrow Airport on a Singapore Airlines flight last month. Virgin Atlantic also said last month it will trial the app on its London-Barbados route from April.

“Etihad Airways trial of Iata Travel Pass will help build confidence among governments and travellers that digital health apps can safely, securely and conveniently help restart aviation,” said Nick Careen, Iata senior vice president for airport, passenger, cargo and security. “The app gives travellers a one-stop-shop to help them comply with the new rules for travel, and for governments complete assurance in the identity of the passenger and the authenticity of the travel credentials being presented.”

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.

In a statement following the first trial of the travel pass last month, Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director general and chief executive said the significance of the successful trial "cannot be overstated”.

“[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," he said.