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Emirates and Etihad Airways among first airlines in the world to trial new IATA Travel Pass ‘digital passport’ app

January 21, 2021 Apps, Headline News No Comments

With the IATA Travel Pass enabling passengers to create a ‘digital passport’ to verify their pre-travel test or vaccination meets the requirements of the destination, a report in Arabian Business says Emirates and Etihad Airways have partnered with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to become among the first airlines in the world to trial a new app to help passengers manage their travel amid ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

The IATA Travel Pass enables passengers to create a ‘digital passport’ to verify their pre-travel test or vaccination meets the requirements of the destination.

They will also be able to share the test and vaccination certificates with authorities and airlines to facilitate travel, with the new app also enabling travellers to manage all travel documentation digitally and seamlessly throughout the travel experience.

Prior to a full roll out, Emirates said it will implement phase one in Dubai for the validation of Covid-19 PCR tests before departure and in this initial phase, expected to begin in April, Emirates customers travelling from Dubai will be able to share their Covid-19 test status directly with the airline even before reaching the airport through the app, which will then auto-populate the details on the check-in system.

Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ chief operating officer said, “While international travel remains as safe as ever, there are new protocols and travel requirements with the current global pandemic.”, adding, “We have worked with IATA on this innovative solution to simplify and digitally transmit the information that is required by countries and governments into our airline systems, in a secure and efficient manner”, and “We are proud to be one of the first airlines in the world to pilot this initiative, which will provide an enhanced customer experience and conveniently facilitate our customers’ travel needs.”

Etihad said the IATA Travel Pass will initially be offered to passengers on selected flights from Abu Dhabi in the first quarter of 2021 and if successful, the pass will be extended to other destinations on the Etihad network, with Mohammad Al Bulooki, chief operating officer, Etihad Aviation Group saying, “Covid-19 tests and vaccinations will be key to get the world flying again… Being one of the first airlines globally working with IATA as a pioneer partner on the IATA Travel Pass is a big step forward for Etihad’s guests and for the industry.”

Within the IATA Travel Pass app, the integrated registry of travel requirements will also enable passengers to find accurate information on travel and entry requirements for all destinations regardless of where they are travelling from.

It will also include a registry of testing and eventually vaccination centres – making it more convenient for passengers to find testing centres and labs at their departure location which meet the standards for testing and vaccination requirements of their destination.

The platform will also enable authorised labs and test centres to securely send test results or vaccination certificates to passengers. The global registry, managed by IATA, will manage and allow the secure flow of necessary information among all stakeholders and to provide a seamless passenger experience.

Emirates said it is committed to providing a seamless customer experience at all touchpoints. In the last few months, it has introduced a smart contactless journey with an integrated biometric path and other services including self-check-in and bag drop kiosks at Dubai International airport for a smoother airport experience.

Etihad also said it has been actively exploring the roll out of digital health certification for its guests, and Nick Careen, IATA senior vice president for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security said, “This is the first step in making international travel during the pandemic as convenient as possible giving people the confidence that they are meeting all Covid-19 entry requirements by governments, adding, “As borders re-open, IATA Travel Pass will be further enhanced with more capabilities to meet all governments testing or vaccination verification requirements and Emirates and Etihad customers will be among the first to have these services.”

The launch of the IATA Travel Pass comes as the authority predicts that Middle Eastern airlines are expected to see their losses rise to $7.1 billion in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic continues to decimate the aviation industry.

IATA figures also showed that air passenger demand in the region has slumped by 73% in 2020 compared to the previous year while capacity has also fallen by 64.5 percent, with IATA previously saying full-year 2020 passenger numbers in the Middle East are forecast to reach only 30% of 2019 levels, down significantly from the 45 percent that was projected in July and in absolute numbers, the Middle East is expected to see 60 million travellers this year compared to the 203 million in 2019.

The aviation authority said that a full return to 2019 levels is not expected until late 2024 in the Middle East region.

IATA said that globally, airline revenues this year will plunge by 60% as a result of the coronavirus pandemic which threatens the survival of the industry.

An edited report from Arabian Business by John Alwyn-Jones

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