The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is developing a ‘Contactless Travel’ app to help people travel in the new normal brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The app will combine passport information with test and vaccination certificates received from participating labs.
The global aviation body plans to launch the Travel Pass platform by the year-end and develop it for Android and Apple iOS phones in the first half of the new year. IATA explained that the platform is built on open source standards to help interoperability with existing systems including its member airlines’ own customer apps. It added that passenger health and other data are authenticated with blockchain, meaning that consumers have control of what they share.
Nick Careen, IATA security chief, said the main priority is to get people travelling again safely. “That means giving governments confidence that systematic COVID-19 testing can work as a replacement for quarantine requirements,” he said. Celine Canu, Head of Passenger Process and Facilitation IATA, in September had said that they have devised the necessary protocols to operate safely during the pandemic and ensure that aviation does not become a vector for spreading virus. She said the body needs the governments to play their part to restore confidence. “One of the biggest challenges are the ever-changing immigration and quarantine regulations put into place by governments,” Canu pointed out. “It is hard to stimulate demand when travellers are faced with ever-changing rules and regulations.”
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Canu said IATA has been at the forefront in devising biosafety protocols to ensure that air travel does not become a vector for spreading COVID-19. “As part of this, educating the travelling public about air quality on board airplanes has been a focal point. The deisgn of the onboard air-conditioning systems and the use of HEPA filters provides for air quality that is more in line with that of an operation room in a hospital than anything else,” she explained. “As testing methods develop, performing antigen tests at airports on departure could provide the best way forward in the future. However, the technology for doing this at large scale required is not yet available. In any case, standards on documenting test results and making these available in a mutually acceptable form between countries is something the relevant authorities need to work on.”