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IATA gains airline partners for trials of new IATA Travel Pass

Posted: 19 January 2021 | | No comments yet

Emirates and Etihad Airways have become two of the first airlines in the world to partner with IATA on trialling its new digital travel pass.

IATA Travel Pass

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that it is partnering with Emirates and Etihad Airways to become two of the first airlines in the world to trial the new IATA Travel Pass – a mobile app to help passengers easily and securely manage their travel in line with any government requirements for COVID-19 testing or vaccine information.

The IATA Travel Pass enables Emirates and Etihad Airways passengers to create a ‘digital passport’ to verify that their pre-travel test or vaccination meets the requirements of the destination that they are travelling to.

They will also be able to share the test and vaccination certificates with authorities and airlines to facilitate travel. The new app will also enable travellers to manage all travel documentation digitally and seamlessly throughout the travel experience.

Prior to a full roll out, Emirates will implement phase 1 in Dubai for the validation of COVID-19 PCR tests before departure. In this initial phase, expected to begin in April 2021, Emirates customers travelling from Dubai will be able to share their COVID-19 test status directly with the airline even before reaching the airport through the app, which will then auto-populate the details on the check-in system.

For Etihad Airways, the IATA Travel Pass will initially be offered to guests on selected flights from Abu Dhabi in the first quarter of 2021. If successful, the pass will be extended to other destinations on the Etihad network.

Etihad has been actively exploring the roll out of digital health certification for its guests, and this latest partnership with IATA, alongside similar programmes the airline has in development, shows that the technology is advancing quickly to make it a reality. To standardise the way in which passenger wellness can be assured during the COVID-19 pandemic, at an industry level, Etihad is actively campaigning for collaboration and a united regulatory response to restore confidence in flying. 

Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ Chief Operating Officer, said: “While international travel remains as safe as ever, there are new protocols and travel requirements with the current global pandemic. We have worked with IATA on this innovative solution to simplify and digitally transmit the information that is required by countries and governments into our airline systems, in a secure and efficient manner. We are proud to be one of the first airlines in the world to pilot this initiative, which will provide an enhanced customer experience and conveniently facilitate our customers’ travel needs.”

“COVID-19 tests and vaccinations will be key to get the world flying again. Since 1 August 2020, Etihad is the only airline requiring a pre-departure negative PCR test result for all passengers worldwide, and again on arrival in Abu Dhabi, giving our guests the added assurance of safety when they travel with us. A high priority for Etihad is for our guests to have an easy, secure and efficient way to identify and verify their information. Being one of the first airlines globally working with IATA as a pioneer partner on the IATA Travel Pass is a big step forward for Etihad’s guests and for the industry,” said Mohammad Al Bulooki, Chief Operating Officer of the Etihad Aviation Group. 

Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security, said: “We’re proud to work with Emirates to make the IATA Travel Pass available in the Middle East region. With its global customer base and network traffic, Emirates as a partner will also bring invaluable input and feedback to improve the Travel Pass programme. This is the first step in making international travel during the pandemic as convenient as possible, giving people the confidence that they are meeting all COVID-19 entry requirements by governments. As borders re-open, the IATA Travel Pass will be further enhanced with more capabilities to meet all governments testing or vaccination verification requirements, and Emirates customers will be among the first to have these services.”

“The Etihad Airways partnership to launch the IATA Travel Pass is an important milestone on the road to meaningfully restarting international travel. Our aim is to give all governments the confidence to re-open borders to travellers based on verified vaccine and testing data. The initial stage of the Etihad launch will focus on all four elements of the IATA Travel Pass modules, making it one of the first airlines in the world to do so,” he added.

The IATA Travel Pass has been developed as four independent modules that can interact with each other. These modules cover registries for regulatory entry requirements and labs/test centers, verified certificate issuance, digital identity and the possibility for passengers to share their tests results along their journey via their mobile device. These modules can work together as one complete end-to-end solution, or they can be used separately to compliment systems that others are building. IATA has developed these modules to ensure they are interoperable with other industry solutions.  

Within the app, the integrated registry of travel requirements will also enable passengers to find accurate information on travel and entry requirements for all destinations, regardless of where they are travelling from. It will also include a registry of testing and eventually vaccination centres – making it more convenient for passengers to find testing centres and labs at their departure location which meet the standards for testing and vaccination requirements of their destination.

The platform will also enable authorised labs and test centres to securely send test results or vaccination certificates to passengers. The global registry, managed by IATA, will manage and allow the secure flow of necessary information amongst all stakeholders and to provide a seamless passenger experience.

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