While many travelers are staying grounded during the ongoing global Covid pandemic, anyone who needs to fly internationally during this challenging time will likely be faced with a long list of constantly-changing entry and departure testing and paperwork requirements. Besides activating every possible travel alert and notification on your phone and obsessively monitoring local news both in your current location and future destination, it's not easy to keep track of the latest updates. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has developed a potential solution: an IATA Travel Pass digital health passport launching early this year with Etihad and Emirates airlines.
According to the pre-launch announcement, the IATA Travel Pass has been developed to gather and collate information from registries for regulatory entry requirements as well as labs and testing centres, verified certificate issuance, and digital identity. The digital passport will allow passengers to share certified, official test results via their smartphones at checkpoints along their travel route.
"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," said Mohammad Al Bulooki, Chief Operating Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, in a statement. "Covid-19 tests and vaccinations will be key to get the world flying again. Since 1 August 2020, Etihad is the only airline requiring a pre-departure negative PCR test result for all passengers worldwide, and again on arrival in Abu Dhabi, giving our guests the added assurance of safety when they travel with us. A high priority for Etihad is for our guests to have an easy, secure and efficient way to identify and verify their information."
At launch, Etihad will offer IATA travel pass functionality on select routes, eventually rolling it out throughout its flight network.
Beginning in April, Emirates passengers departing from Dubai will be able to use the IATA travel pass to share their Covid-19 PCR test results directly with the airline prior to arriving at the airport.
"While international travel remains as safe as ever, there are new protocols and travel requirements with the current global pandemic," Adel Al Redha Emirates’ Chief Operating Officer said in a statement. "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. 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."