Travel industry lobbies for digital passport showing COVID-19 vaccination status

by Joel Abbott · Nov 30th, 2020 2:40 pm

Last Updated Dec 2nd, 2020 at 8:38 pm

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that it is nearing the completion of a "digital passport" mobile app that would allow travelers to show their COVID-19 testing and vaccination certificates.

IATA says it has been working with the International Airlines Group and plans to "undertake a trial" to show governments that such a passport can safely allow international travel without quarantine to resume once again.

"Our main priority is to get people traveling again safely," said Nick Careen, IATA's Senior Vice President, Airport, Passenger, Cargo, and Security. "In the immediate term that means giving governments confidence that systematic COVID-19 testing can work as a replacement for quarantine requirements. And that will eventually develop into a vaccine program. The IATA Travel Pass is a solution for both."

Careen also said hat the passport app is being built open source and could "be used in combination with other providers," such as restaurants, concert venues, or employers.

While many have been pushing for such immunity passports, other experts have warned that they are unethical and "pose extremely high risks in terms of social cohesion, discrimination, exclusion, and vulnerability."

The travel industry, however, is desperate for a solution that would make both passengers and governments feel safer about travel. Airlines alone have had a 65% drop in passengers since 2019.

"We are bringing this to market in the coming months to also meet the needs of the various travel bubbles and public health corridors that are starting operation," said IATA's director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac.

Australian airline Qantas has already said it will require passengers to be vaccinated in order to travel internationally, with other airlines expected to follow. Airlines for America, a major lobbyist for the industry, said U.S. airlines are "committed to restoring service in a manner that prioritizes the safety and wellbeing of our passengers and employees."


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