Emirates and Etihad among first airlines to trial IATA Travel Pass


Emirates and Etihad will be among the first airlines in the world to use IATA’s digital health passport, with trials set to take place in Q1 2021.

Emirates and Etihad have both announced partnerships with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to trial the IATA Travel Pass – a mobile app that helps passengers manage their travel and conform with relevant government requirements for COVID-19 testing or vaccine information.

Prior to a full roll out, Emirates will implement phase 1 in Dubai for the validation of COVID-19 PCR tests before departure. 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, Chief Operating Officer, Emirates, said: “While international travel remains as safe as ever, there are new protocols and travel requirements with the current global pandemic. 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.”

Commenting on the new partnership with Emirates, Nick Careen, IATA Senior Vice President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security said: “We’re proud to work with Emirates to make IATA Travel Pass available in the Middle East region. With its global customer base and network traffic, Emirates as a partner will also bring invaluable input and feedback to improve the Travel Pass programme. 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. 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 customers will be among the first to have these services.”

Etihad Airways has also this week announced that it will trial the solution, initially offering it to guests on selected flights from Abu Dhabi in the first quarter of 2021. If successful, the pass will be extended to other destinations on the Etihad network.

The IATA Travel Pass will enable passengers from both airlines to create a ‘digital passport’ to receive COVID-19 test results and verify they are eligible to undertake their journey. They will also be able to share the test and vaccination certificates with authorities and airlines to facilitate travel. The new app will enable travellers to manage all travel documentation digitally and seamlessly throughout the travel experience.

Mohammad Al Bulooki, Chief Operating Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, also commented: “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. 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.”

IATA Travel Pass has been developed as four independent modules that can interact with each other. These modules cover registries for regulatory entry requirements and labs/test centres, verified certificate issuance, digital identity and the possibility for passengers to share their tests results along their journey via their mobile device. These modules can work together as one complete end-to-end solution. Or they can be used separately to complement systems that others are building. IATA has developed these modules to ensure they are interoperable with other industry solutions.

Singapore Airlines became the first airline to trial the solution on flights from Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur to Singapore in December, with plans to expand the programme, integrating it with the SingaporeAir app by mid-2021. IATA has stated that the Travel Pass will also be trialled by British Airways.

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