The International Air Transport Association (IATA) successfully trialed a new health passport app (called Travel Pass) to manage COVID-19 tests and vaccine certifications for international flights. Travelers at London's Heathrow Airport were the first to test the IATA Travel Pass app to manage their health credentials.
"The successful implementation of IATA Travel Pass in this trial with Singapore Airlines passengers demonstrates that technology can securely, conveniently, and efficiently help travelers and governments to manage travel health credentials. The significance of this to restarting international aviation cannot be overstated," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's director general and CEO.
IATA is the premier global trade organization for airlines, with 290 members. Their push for the Travel Pass app, or as we've called it "COVID passport" and or "immunity passports," comes as a bid to reopen borders and restart air travel.
Last month, we noted this dystopic future could be the 'new normal' in a matter of weeks. And we were right, as the rollout of the Travel Pass appears to be underway. IATA's new app will likely be rolled out with more airlines in a matter of weeks. Here's the list of airlines so far:
Passengers on Singapore Airlines flights from Singapore to London used the IATA Travel Pass to secure their passport information, flight details, and health data to meet all travel requirements.
"Digital health credentials will be essential as borders reopen and travel restrictions get progressively lifted worldwide. The successful implementation of the IATA Travel Pass reflects Singapore Airlines' goal of using secure digital solutions to verify health credentials, and support a safe and seamless travel experience for our customers," said JoAnn Tan, Acting Senior Vice President, Marketing Planning, Singapore Airlines.
Since the early days of the pandemic (read: here & here & here), we've discussed how health passports were imminent. And here we are, early 2021, more than one year since the virus pandemic struck, the beginning chapter of a new global standard where airlines worldwide will require travelers to provide health passports before they can fly is here.
There will be some thorny legal issues raised because health passports can exacerbate inequality within society, as those who refuse vaccination could be barred from air travel.
Last week, China launched a digital "health certificate" for its 1.3 billion citizens, which will record their vaccination status and COVID test status.
There is no doubt that health passports will be widely implemented to reopen borders and restart aviation.