Emirates Airline to trial Iata's coronavirus travel passport 'within days'

Chief operations officer Adel Al Redha says data on the pass will provide secure vaccination details for airlines and governments

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Emirates Airline will begin to trial a coronavirus travel passport at Dubai International Airport within days, a senior executive said.

Adel Al Redha, chief operations officer, said app-based travel passports were just one measure that could be used to kick-start air travel.

The digital travel pass, created by International Air Transport Association (Iata), is a free app that allows users to upload pre-departure test results.

It will soon also allow travellers to share their vaccine records and tests in a verifiable and safe manner.

The travel industry hopes it will give governments the confidence to open borders and ensure airports and customs officers can recognise various vaccines and test results from across the globe.

It's the most secure way of having vaccination details in the airline reservation system

"We're expecting to start trialling within the next few days", Mr Al Redha told Dubai Eye's Business Breakfast.

"We've done all the background and we've done all the IP links between us and Iata. In addition to that we'll also be linking with the Dubai Health Authority.

"We will be trying it, and we'll have passengers on actual flights going through this process to make sure that, if there are any technical glitches in the systems, we can overcome them."

The airline has also introduced contact-less check-in and passport control in Dubai Airport to reduce contact between passengers and staff.

Passengers just have to register their biometric details and, as they move through the airport, identity checks are completed automatically through a combination of iris and facial recognition technology.

Frictionless travel for the vaccinated

Mr Al Redha said he believed a travel passport is the best option for countries, airlines and passengers.

"The IATA passport is the means to transmit and have available on the system, all the information related to the vaccination, so passengers don't have to carry with them any documents.

"Plus also it's the most secure way of having the vaccination details available in the airline reservation systems.

"Also the passenger themselves will be able to access the entry criteria for any countries.

"I think this information is rapidly changing, and having all that at the tip of your fingers on your phone or your application – it will really give the passenger all the relevant information," he said.

As vaccination campaigns continue, more and more countries are announcing frictionless travel for passengers who can prove they have been vaccinated.

The Seychelles is the latest country, but Estonia, Poland, Guatemala and Georgia have also made announcements.

This trend is set to continue, said Mr Al Redha.

"I think this will be the way it is going forward."