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Air NZ shows way forward – trials global digital travel pass

February 24, 2021 Aviation, Headline News No Comments

Air New Zealand, known for its innovation, will in just a few weeks become the first airline in the Asia Pacific region to deploy a digital initiative to get people moving safely across the globe again.

In April, the airline will trial on its Auckland-Sydney route the digital Travel Pass app developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in response to travel challenges in the era of Covid-19.

The Travel Pass (which has already been adopted by three major long-haul carriers: Emirates, Etihad and Qatar) does away with constantly changing entry and departure testing and paperwork requirements.

Air New Zealand Chief Digital Officer Jennifer Sepull says the goal is to enable customers to seamlessly manage their digital travel documentation throughout their travel experience.

“Once borders reopen, travel is going to look very different, with customers’ health data needing to be verified at check-in. It’s essentially like having a digital health certificate that can be easily and securely shared with airlines. This will give customers peace of mind that they meet all travel requirements for the different countries around the world before they even get to the airport.”

IATA expects its digital Travel Pass will be ready “within weeks”, according to a BBC report yesterday.

The pass is an app that verifies a passenger has had the Covid-19 tests or vaccines required to enter a country. It also verifies they were administered by an approved authority.

IATA sees the pass as essential for reopening air travel, as many countries, including Australia and New Zealand, still have strict restrictions or quarantines in place.

As Sepull says: “Reassuring customers that travel is in fact safe is one of our priorities. By using the app, customers can have confidence that everyone onboard meets the same government health requirements they do.

“By having a place to store all your health credentials digitally in one place, it will not only speed up the check-in process but unlock the potential for contactless travel.”

Customer privacy is at the heart of the design. There is no central database storing personal information – rather it is shared at the travellers’ discretion, in a safe and secure way.

IATA has gone digital as the risk of fraud with paper documents is too great. Already, police in several countries have apprehended fraudsters trying to sell faked negative Covid test results. Europol recently warned that a forgery ring in France had been selling forged results to passengers at Charles de Gaulle Airport.

IATA’s Senior Vice President Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security, Nick Careen says Air New Zealand’s trial of IATA Travel Pass is an important milestone towards restarting international travel.

“Air New Zealand is demonstrating its industry leadership being among the first airlines in the world to offer its passengers a digital travel pass.

“Air New Zealand’s trial of IATA Travel Pass will help give governments the confidence to re-open borders and passengers the confidence to travel. The app has been developed with the highest levels of data privacy and security, so passengers always remain in control of their Covid-19 health information. And governments can be confident that passengers who are “Ok to Travel” are in full compliance of Covid-19 travel requirements.”

The trial will run for three weeks once the app hits app/android store shelves in April and both aircrew and customers will be invited to join the trial. The airline is in conversation with government agencies about options for validation of testing and vaccination.

How it works

Customers will be able to create a digital health wallet linked to their e-passport. Once travellers have been tested and/or vaccinated, labs will securely send data to the individual’s app. It then checks requirements for travel against the data and customers who meet those travel requirements will be given the green tick to travel.

Written by Peter Needham

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