It looks like the digital health passport is the future of air travel; helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 and get passengers safely back into the skies once more.
The digital health passport is gaining momentum, with many airlines from all over the world trialing the new process in a step that could see international travel reopen in the last quarter of 2021.
While the vaccines continue to be rolled out in Australia, airlines such as Emirates, Etihad, Air New Zealand, and now Qantas, Qatar and Singapore, have begun using specialised digital health passport apps for passengers to update their health and vaccine status before boarding.
Over in Europe, the European Commission is also set to present a proposal this month on creating an EU-wide digital vaccination passport, allowing Europeans to travel more freely over the peak summer period.
Qantas has this week run its first customer trial of the CommonPass digital health app on its international repatriation flight from Frankfurt to Darwin.
This move follows a successful trial with crew last month and comes as the national carrier prepares to support the resumption of COVID-safe international travel from late October.
According to Qantas, the CommonPass smartphone app offers a convenient and secure method for verifying COVID test results and vaccination information to border or health officials and airline staff.
The app connects customers to certified testing labs so that results can be uploaded to the platform and customers can show they have proof of a negative COVID test result before their flight, which is a requirement on all repatriation flights Qantas is operating on behalf of the Australian Government.
Qantas Group Chief Customer Officer Stephanie Tully said a digital health pass would assist airlines and governments globally to facilitate safe international travel when borders reopen.
“We want to get our international flights back in the air and our people back to work and a digital health pass will be a key part of that,” said Ms Tully.
Qatar Airways is proud to begin trials of the innovative new IATA Travel Pass ‘Digital Passport’ mobile app, starting 12 March 2021.
Passengers on the airline’s Doha to Istanbul route will become the first group to experience the ‘Digital Passport’ app which aims to play an important role in the airline’s vision to have a more contactless, secure and seamless travel experience for its passengers.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “As the world’s leading airline for safety, innovation and customer experience, we are the industry’s firmest advocate for introducing digital solutions to help passengers safely and seamlessly navigate complex and ever-changing entry restrictions across the globe.
Singapore Airlines will also be piloting the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Travel Pass mobile application for digital health verification, starting with passengers travelling from Singapore to London from 15 to 28 March 2021.
This marks the second phase of SIA’s digital health verification process trials, which is based on the IATA Travel Pass framework.
Passengers will be invited to download the IATA Travel Pass app, and create a digital ID comprising their profile photo and passport information. They can also insert their flight information into the app.
Subsequently, they can book their pre-departure COVID-19 test at one of seven participating clinics in Singapore via a dedicated online portal. They can then register at the clinic using the digital ID and flight information in the app. They will be able to view their test results, as well as confirmation status to fly, directly on the app. IATA’s Timatic registry will provide the back-end information on the COVID-19 testing and entry requirements.
Participants will need to show their confirmed status in the app to the check-in staff in Changi Airport before flight departure. In line with current regulatory requirements, they will also need to bring a physical copy of their health certificate that is issued by the clinic where they took their COVID-19 test.
Ms JoAnn Tan, Acting Senior Vice President Marketing Planning, Singapore Airlines, said: “The first phase of the trials helped to support SIA’s drive towards a secure and convenient industry standard for the verification of Covid-19 test results, and the health status of passengers including their vaccination status, in the future.
“That gives us the confidence that in the second phase, we can further streamline the verification process for eventual integration into SIA’s mobile application. This will help to provide a hassle-free digital solution for our customers in the new normal, and help to bring about a more seamless travel experience.”
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