Qantas has finalised a deal with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to roll out a digital health verification pass ahead of the resumption of international flights across both Qantas and Jetstar.
Currently, all Australians returning from overseas must present a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of boarding their flight, and the federal government has hinted that vaccination could soon also become a requirement prior to entry.
After months of trialling various digital health solutions to streamline the verification of COVID-19 test results on its international repatriation flights, Qantas has now decided to move ahead with IATA’s ‘Travel Pass’ app.
In November last year, IATA announced it was developing its own set of mobile apps that will securely house passengers’ COVID-related health information, including test results and vaccination status, as well as providing customers with up-to-date information about travel restrictions.
IATA said its Travel Pass connects customers to certified testing labs so that test results and vaccination status can be verified and uploaded to the platform prior to their flight.
Further, the IATA application matches a customer’s health information against their specific flight, checks entry requirements for the country they are travelling to, and then provides an answer as to whether or not the passenger is cleared to travel on that flight to that location.
Many countries around the globe currently require either proof of vaccination against COVID-19, or proof of a recent negative COVID test prior to entry, including the UK, Canada and the US.
The federal government has recently suggested similar requirements will be applicable once Australia opens its international borders – currently not expected until mid-2022.
Final development work is currently underway to ensure that the app is ready for use by Qantas and Jetstar by the time regular international flights resume to and from Australia.
“We want to get our international flights back in the air and our people back to work and a digital health pass will be a key part of that,” said Qantas Group chief customer officer Stephanie Tully.
“Many governments are already requiring proof of vaccine or a negative COVID test result for international travel. Even if it wasn’t a government requirement, Qantas has always been a leader in safety and we have a responsibility to our customers and crew.”
“A digital health pass will connect customers with COVID testing facilities, health authorities and airlines, and ultimately enable the opening of more travel bubbles and borders,” Tully added.
“The IATA Travel Pass will allow travellers to have their COVID test results and vaccine information verified securely, which will be their green light to fly internationally with us.
“We’re working closely with IATA to develop their Travel Pass to make the process as seamless as possible for Qantas and Jetstar customers as international borders start to re-open.”
Meanwhile, IATA senior vice president for operations, safety and security Nick Careen said the association is “delighted” that Qantas has decided to progress with the Travel Pass.
“A digital solution to manage and verify health credentials is essential for travel while COVID-19 remains a risk,” Careen said.
“IATA Travel Pass delivers an advantage over other solutions in that the app enables travellers to create a digital ID derived from a government-issued document such as a passport, he added.
“This means that airlines and governments can have full confidence in the test/vaccine results both from a content and identity perspective.
“Being able to validate the vaccination status of Australians returning from overseas is critical to enable Australia’s four-phase national COVID response plan announced earlier this month.”
IATA, the world’s largest aviation trade association, began developing the technology in 2020, and has since trialled its Travel Pass in collaboration with 74 airlines across 168 international routes.