IATA promotes digital ‘Travel Pass’ to restart international travel shut down by pandemic

Association joins others like The Commons Project in developing tools to help industry get flying again across borders; IATA’s DG stepping down in 2021

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Use thisThe International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced Monday (23 November) that it is in the final development phase of the IATA Travel Pass, a digital health pass that will support the safe reopening of borders. It joins others in using digital tools to help re-start international air travel that has been hammered by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Another group called The Commons Project has developed a similar tool called the “CommonPass” that would accomplish many of the same goals as the IATA Travel Pass. (See video below.)

The first cross-border IATA Travel Pass pilot is scheduled for later this year and the launch slated for quarter one 2021. IATA also said it welcomed the publication of the Manual on Testing and Cross Border Risk Management Measures by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). This document provides governments a risk-based assessment tool for using testing programs that could alleviate quarantine requirements.

IATA is calling for systematic COVID-19 testing of all international travellers and the information flow infrastructure needed to enable this must support:

  • Governments with the means to verify the authenticity of tests and the identity of those presenting the test certificates.
  • Airlines with the ability to provide accurate information to their passengers on test requirements and verify that a passenger meets the requirements for travel.
  • Laboratories with the means to issue digital certificates to passengers that will be recognised by governments, and;
  • Travelers with accurate information on test requirements, where they can get tested or vaccinated, and the means to securely convey test information to airlines and border authorities.

“Today borders are double locked,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO. “Testing is the first key to enable international travel without quarantine measures. The second key is the global information infrastructure needed to securely manage, share and verify test data matched with traveller identities in compliance with border control requirements. That’s the job of IATA Travel Pass. We are bringing this to market in the coming months to also meet the needs of the various travel bubbles and public health corridors that are starting operation.”

Download the IATA Travel Pass presentation here.
Download the ICAO Manual on Testing & Cross-Border Management here.

IATA Travel Pass incorporates four open sourced and interoperable modules which can be combined for an end-to-end solution:

  • Global registry of health requirements – enables passengers to find accurate information on travel, testing and eventually vaccine requirements for their journey.
  • Global registry of testing / vaccination centres – enables passengers to find testing centres and labs at their departure location which meet the standards for testing and vaccination requirements of their destination.
  • Lab App – enables authorised labs and test centres to securely share test and vaccination certificates with passengers.
  • Contactless Travel App – enables passengers to (1) create a ‘digital passport’, (2) receive test and vaccination certificates and verify that they are sufficient for their itinerary, and (3) share testing or vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel. This app can also be used by travellers to manage travel documentation digitally and seamlessly throughout their journey, improving travel experience.

IATA and International Airlines Group (IAG) have been working together in the development of this solution and will undertake a trial to demonstrate that this platform combined with COVID-19 testing can reopen international travel and replace quarantine.

The airline industry demands a cost effective, global, and modular solution to safely restart travel. IATA Travel Pass is based on industry standards and IATA’s proven experience in managing information flows around complex travel requirements.

  • IATA’s Timatic is used by most airlines to manage compliance with passport and visa regulations and will be the base for the global registry and verification of health requirements.
  • IATA’s One ID initiative was endorsed by a resolution at its 75th Annual General Meeting in 2019 to securely facilitate travel processes with a single identity token. It is the base for the IATA Contactless Travel App for identity verification that will also manage the test and vaccination certificates.

“Our main priority is to get people traveling again safely. In the immediate term that means giving governments confidence that systematic COVID-19 testing can work as a replacement for quarantine requirements. And that will eventually develop into a vaccine program. The IATA Travel Pass is a solution for both. And we have built it using a modular approach based on open source standards to facilitate interoperability. It can be used in combination with other providers or as a standalone end-to-end solution. The most important thing is that it is responsive to industry’s needs while enabling a competitive market,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President, Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security.

Director general moving on

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Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general. (PHOTO: IATA file)

IATA also announced that de Juniac will step down from his role at the association effective 31 March 2021. De Juniac made known his intention to step down from the association several months ago which enabled a search process to facilitate a smooth leadership transition.

Incoming IATA Director General William Walsh, former CEO of IAG (PHOTO: Stuart Bailey)

The IATA Board of Governors will recommend to the 76th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 24 November 2020 the appointment of Willie Walsh, former CEO of International Airlines Group (IAG) to become IATA’s eighth director general from 1 April 2021. De Juniac joined IATA in September 2016 from Air France-KLM where he was chairman and CEO. “I did not come to this decision lightly. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve the global air transport industry—what I call the business of freedom—as the head of IATA,” de Juniac said. “Over the last years IATA has strategically increased its relevance as the voice of the global airline industry. This has been evident in the COVID-19 crisis. IATA has set the course to restore air connectivity amid the pandemic with systematic pre-departure testing. We are well into preparations to fulfil critical vaccine distribution needs. In parallel, we have restructured IATA to survive the crisis and be ready to support the industry recovery with an organization dimensioned to serve a smaller industry. And we have a motivated team that is determined to get the job done. The building blocks for an industry recovery are in place. And now is the right time to hand over IATA’s leadership for the long process of recovery.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. Seriously?
    Personal health information shared in an app? Mandatory Immunization for traveling?
    You need a smart phone now to travel?
    World gone crazy.
    Sorry, but Orwell was right!

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