To provide easier air travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, global airlines’ body IATA plans to launch its travel pass by the end of March and is also in talks with Indian authorities and carriers for using the pass in India. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has around 290 airlines as members, including Air India, Vistara, IndiGo, and SpiceJet.
The IATA Travel Pass will be a mobile app to help passengers easily and securely manage their travel in line with government requirements for COVID-19 tests or vaccines.
There is a need to have a global and standardized solution to validate and authenticate all country regulations regarding COVID-19 passenger travel requirements.
IATA Regional Director for Airports and External Relations (Asia Pacific) Vinoop Goel told that the pass will move existing paper processes to a digital platform and joins it with up-to-date information on entry requirements. This will also make the process more convenient and help avoid fraudulent documentation.
“There will be paper-based alternatives for people who do not have mobile phones, albeit less convenient ones. IATA is already managing health requirements through its Timatic solution, so IATA Travel Pass is a natural evolution to support the industry during the pandemic,” he noted.
The first cross-border pilot project for the pass was announced at the end of 2020. The iOS and Android launch is slated for the end of March 2021 and IATA is working as fast as we can with airlines to bring it to market, Goel said.
To contain the spreading of coronavirus infections, restrictions on cross-border movement of people are in place in various countries. There are also strict requirements such as carrying COVID-negative certificates for overseas travelers.
When asked whether IATA is in discussions with Indian carriers for rolling out the pass, Goel said the grouping is in talks with Indian authorities and airlines for the pass to be used in India.
“IATA Travel Pass is a fully digital solution that can be quickly rolled out and can cater to a huge aviation market like India. Also, given the prevalence of e-solutions in normal Indian day-to-say activities, the Indian population is well versed with such mobile solutions and we are confident that they will be quick to adopt the IATA Travel Pass.
“Given the scale and diversity of the Indian air travel market and the multiple languages used, it will be very difficult to implement a paper-based certificate verification process,” he noted.
The pass will have four open and interoperable modules — global registry of health requirements, global registry of testing/ vaccination centers, Lab App, and contactless travel app. The last one will help create a digital passport, receive test and vaccination certificates and verify that they are sufficient for their itinerary, and share testing or vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel.