Could Digital Passports Be Key To International Travel Recovery?

Credit: JetBlue/The Commons Project

As vaccination drives gather steam across the globe, airlines and governments are scrambling to determine how best to prove inoculation of international travelers, including through the use of digital health passports.

In Europe, carriers operating at a fraction of their normal spring levels are hoping plans for a digital green certificate—a document that will provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, antibodies or vaccination—will boost confidence and convince consumers to book summer vacations.

Read the full article to learn more about the European Commission’s Digital Green Certificate.

Industry groups including Airlines for Europe and the Inter-national Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the digital green certificate but also called for work to begin on an EU road map setting out the conditions, criteria and possible timing for the easing and lifting of travel restrictions, as well as a harmonized implementation of testing policies.

Airlines and airports want to avoid a repeat of last summer, when a recovery was abruptly curtailed by last-minute changes to travel restrictions and requirements that saw consumers reluctant to book flights for fear of an unexpected quarantine requirement on returning home.

IATA has previously warned that health information about passengers must be available in digital form for a restart of international air travel, in order to make the recovery sustainable from an operational point of view. 

Hear more about IATA's views and their 'IATA Travel Pass' in the latest Fireside Chat with IATA's Director General

As we move forward, numerous airlines are taking many different approaches. Take a look at some below - 

  • Air France, British Airways and Ryanair have taken matters into their own hands with health-data apps
  • Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways (ANA), Korean Air, Qantas, Thai Airways and Thai VietJet, among others, are trying out the IATA app.
  • Malaysia Airlines plans to develop and release its Digital Travel Health Pass, which it says will “incorporate some modules” from the IATA Travel Pass

Read more about the airlines approaches in the full article

In the U.S., the Biden administration has said it does not support the creation of a federal program for vaccine passports. On March 29, Andy Slavitt, the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told reporters: “The government is not viewing its role as the place to create a passport. . . . We view this as something the private sector should do.”

Read the full AWST article - Digital Passports Could Be Key To International Travel Recovery