Etihad and Emirates to trial COVID-19 digital passport in world first

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The IATA Travel Pass mobile app should be available on iOS and Android by March 2021

Eager travelers have been anticipating the possibility of international travel and thanks to a new mobile app it’s now one step closer. In a world-first, two UAE-based airlines have confirmed they will trial the IATA Travel Pass mobile app in their operations.

Etihad Airways and Emirates have announced their partnership with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which is developing a mobile app for travelers to store and manage vaccine proofs and COVID-19 test certificates, among other perks. 

Should travelers download the digital passport app?

Travelers will be able to share their COVID-19 test certificates via the app with the airline before even reaching the airportTravelers will be able to share their COVID-19 test certificates via the app with the airline before even reaching the airport — Shutterstock

With the information in the mobile app, IATA hopes governments globally will become confident in reopening borders without the need for travelers to quarantine.

According to IATA, the application provides a verified and secure means of managing health requirements. Within a wide set of features, it will include a global registry of health requirements with accurate information on travel, testing, and vaccine needs; a global registry of testing and vaccination centers; and a digital passport module to receive test and vaccination certificates and securely share them with airlines and authorities to confirm they’re sufficient for travel.

The premise of the app is that managing information digitally is more efficient than paper processes.

Travelers should be able to download the app on iOS and Android by March 2021.

Emirates will start implementing the app in April

As phase 1 before a full roll-out, Emirates will use the app to validate PCR tests before departure. From April, travelers will be able to share their COVID-19 test certificates via the app with the airline before even reaching the airport, providing a seamless way to save time later on the site.

“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,” said Adel Al Redha Emirates’ Chief Operating Officer.

“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.”

Etihad will first implement the app on selected flights from Abu Dhabi

In the first quarter of 2021, Etihad Airways will introduce the option to use Travel Pass on selected flights from Abu Dhabi. If it succeeds at this stage, the app will be enabled on other routes of their flight network.

With the app, the airline’s customers will be able to set up a digital passport to receive COVID-19 test results and verify they’re eligible for a flight. It will also allow customers to store and manage travel documentation and facilitate the sharing of their data with airlines and authorities

“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,” said Mohammad Al Bulooki, Chief Operating Officer, Etihad Aviation Group.

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