COVID-19 vaccines have started rolling out around Australia, which has naturally raised the question of – when can we all travel again? While there’s still no firm answer to that question airlines have been preparing for the inevitable return to international flights. Air New Zealand is the latest to announce it will be trialling a digital travel pass to certify passengers’ proof of vaccination.
Air New Zealand announced it will be using the digital Travel Pass app developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The trial will take place on the airline’s Auckland to Sydney route for three weeks in April but will not be mandatory.
How does the Travel Pass app work?
The IATA Travel Pass initiative will inform passengers of what tests, vaccines or other measures they require before travelling and give them a secure way to share their test and vaccination results, according to the IATA website.
The initiative is seeking to create a global, standardised solution for validating and authenticating COVID-19 passenger travel requirements according to the regulations in each country. In terms of travel, the app will allow passengers to create a digital passport and verify their COVID-19 test results or proof of vaccination digitally which can then be shared with relevant authorities.
“It’s essentially like having a digital health certificate that can be easily and securely shared with airlines. This will give customers peace of mind that they meet all travel requirements for the different countries around the world before they even get to the airport,” said Jennifer Sepull, Chief Digital Officer at Air New Zealand.
“By using the app, customers can have confidence that everyone onboard meets the same government health requirements they do.”
Naturally, such sensitive documents have raised privacy concerns for passengers.
“The app has been developed with the highest levels of data privacy and security, so passengers always remain in control of their COVID-19 health information. And governments can be confident that passengers who are “Ok to Travel” are in full compliance of COVID-19 travel requirements.” Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security, said.
Air New Zealand joins Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways in support of trialling the app.
Will Australians need digital proof of vaccination?
The Australian Government is already moving towards introducing mobile digital vaccination certificates.
Australians will be able to access their proof of COVID-19 vaccination via their immunisation history on their Medicare online account on myGov or the Express Plus Medicare mobile app. Whether this digital certification will be required to travel is still unknown.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce flagged that proof of vaccination in the form of a digital possibility may become mandatory for Qantas passengers in the future. The airline is yet to finalise how these requirements will be managed.
While proof of vaccination is unlikely to become compulsory on domestic flights, a Virgin Australia spokesperson told Gizmodo that “We continue to consider relevant government and health advice around vaccination and will make any decisions in line with passenger and crew health and safety.”
There is still no word from the Federal Government on how it plans to implement a digital system for vaccine certificates. Gizmodo Australia has reached out to the Department of Services regarding this issue and will update this article when we hear back.