Pass touted as quarantine alternative

Pass touted as quarantine alternative

De Juniac: Wants freer travel
De Juniac: Wants freer travel

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says it is in the final development phase of the IATA Travel Pass, a digital health certificate that will support the safe reopening of borders and contribute to a speedy recovery of the airline industry worldwide from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Governments are beginning to use testing as a means of limiting the risks of Covid-19 when reopening their borders without imposing quarantines on travellers. The Travel Pass will verify the secure flow of necessary testing and vaccine information among governments, airlines, laboratories and travellers.

It follows Thailand's agreement with AstraZeneca that secured the kingdom access to the company's Covid-19 vaccine and authorised a local manufacturer to produce it.

The IATA, meanwhile, called for systematic Covid-19 testing of all international travellers at its 76th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Nov 24, which resolved to urgently call on governments to reopen borders to travel.

The trade association of world's airlines has revised its outlook for the airline industry in 2020 and 2021, saying deep losses will continue next year, even though performance is expected to improve over the coming months.

A net loss of US$118.5 billion (3.6 trillion baht) is expected for 2020 (worse than the US$84.3 billion forecast in June) while a net loss of US$38.7 billion is expected in 2021.

Improvements are expected in the second half of 2021 after a difficult first half. Aggressive cost-cutting may combine with increased demand during 2021 to see the industry turn cash-positive in the fourth quarter of 2021, which is earlier than previously forecast, according to the IATA.

"Today, borders are double locked. Testing is the first key to enable international travel without quarantine measures," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's director-general and CEO. "The second key is the global information infrastructure needed to securely manage, share and verify test data matched with travellers' identities in compliance with border control requirements. That's the job of the 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."

The Travel Pass incorporates interoperable modules which include a contactless travel app which enables passengers to create a "digital passport"; receive test and vaccination certificates and verify that they are sufficient for their itinerary; and share testing or vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel.

The IATA and International Airlines Group (IAG) have been collaborating in the project and will arrange a trial to demonstrate that this pass, combined with Covid-19 testing, can reopen international travel and replace quarantines, which they say "essentially kill demand for air travel".

"Our main priority is to get people travelling again safely," said Nick Careen, the Association's Senior Vice President.

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