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WTTC calls for biometrics and integrated strategy to support safe air travel in ‘new normal’



The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has outlined a systematic approach to using biometrics for verified identification throughout all traveller journeys without manual verifications in a new report on the safe travel in the “new normal” context. A webinar will also be hosted this week by Vision-Box on ‘How to overcome covid-19 crisis in the aviation sector,’ with WTTC President and CEO Gloria Guevara among guest speakers.

The WTTC report on ‘Guidelines for WTTC’s Safe & Seamless Traveller Journey – Testing, Tracing and Health Certificates’ comes as part of the group’s Safe and Seamless Traveller Journey (SSTJ) initiative. The new guidelines were produced through extensive consultation with stakeholders, including WTTC members, health experts and government officials, and takes in WHO and CDC guidance, as well as guidance developed by the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Taskforce (CART).

“The new WTTC guidelines mean that we can now replace the confusing mix of different measures including highly-damaging quarantines, which currently exist, to offer confidence to travellers and governments alike while protecting public health,” states Guevara.

Five critical calls to action have been made by the WTTC for travel sector recovery, including support for quick and reliable tests and a rapid testing and contact tracing strategy, multilateral cooperation and adherence to internationally recognized guidelines to enable a single process and risk assessment framework for approved travelers, support for travel “bubbles” or “tourism corridors,” removal of blanket travel advisories and recommendations against non-essential travel, and support for a global standard of traveller health insurance.

The report does not specifically recommend a digital health credential or any other tool specific to COVID-19, but notes the need to consider all available tools.

“Significant technological advances in digital identities continue to enter the marketplace and can help overcome the COVID-19 crisis,” the report produced in partnership with consultant firm Oliver Wyman states. “Contactless technologies, biometrics, faster clearance for both inbound and outbound passengers, offsite processing, are a few examples of SSTJ capabilities, all of which help reduce the risk of pathogen transmission.”

Finally, the report reviews some of the options on the market for enabling touchless passenger journeys, including biometric solutions from Clear and Vision-Box.

The webinar hosted by Vision-Box will take place on July 1, and will be feature a panel discussion moderated by Vision-Box’s Jean-François (Jeff) Lennon. The company will share study results on the affect of the pandemic on the aviation industry. The webinar is free but space is limited.

Air Belgium to implement Itsme

Air Belgium has announced financial results it calls a “major turnaround,” and says it will be the first airline to allow its passengers to use the national digital identity Itsme to authenticate check-ins and digital transactions. Customers will be able to use the mobile eID to perform bookings and avoid filling out forms, while enjoying easier access to travel information, the company says in the announcement.

Elenium and SimpliFlying propose touchless end-to-end process

Elenium Automation and SimpliFlying have set out an eight-step process for touchless airport travel journeys from remote biometrics enrollment to arrival.

The workflow describes a process starting the day before travel, and proceeding through temperature checks for passengers, touchless vital signs detection, self-service bag drop, self-scanning for security validation, touchless shopping and vending machines and personalized communications. The process continues with smart queuing and touchless biometric boarding, contactless in-flight operations for entertainment and purchases and lavatory queue management with automated UV sanitation, and concludes with touchless immigration processes and electronic customs forms.

The partners have also published a report on the proposed passenger journey, which is meant to provide a blueprint for airlines and airports around the world.

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