In an effort to fast-track global airline travel, Iata is developing a digital Travel Pass – essentially an international health passport – that will manage and verify the secure flow of necessary testing or vaccine information among governments, airlines, laboratories and travellers.

“Our main priority is to get people travelling again safely. In the immediate term that means giving governments the confidence that systematic COVID-19 testing can work as a replacement for quarantine requirements. And that will eventually develop into a vaccine programme,” explained Iata Senior Vice President, Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security, Nick Careen.

It could 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.”

Noting that international borders were currently “double-locked”, Iata Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, said testing was the first key to enabling 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,” said De Juniac.

Flow of information

Iata is calling for the systematic COVID-19 testing of all international travellers, with the relevant information then loaded on to the Iata Pass, which will provide the following information to the relevant parties:

  • Governments will be provided with the means to verify the authenticity of tests and the identity of those presenting the test certificates;
  • Airlines will be enabled to provide accurate information to their passengers on test requirements and verify that a passenger meets the requirements for travel;
  • Laboratories will be able to issue digital certificates to passengers that will be recognised by governments, and;
  • Travellers will receive 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.

Four modules

The Iata Travel Pass incorporates four modules that 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 that 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.

Iata and the International Airlines Group (IAG) have been working together in the development of this solution and will launch a pilot project to demonstrate that this platform, combined with COVID-19 testing, can reopen international travel and replace quarantines.

According to Careen, the first cross-border Iata Travel Pass pilot project is scheduled for later this year and the launch is slated for the first quarter of 2021.