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IATA plans trial of biometric health travel pass to ease border reopenings

IATA plans trial of biometric health travel pass to ease border reopenings

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says it will, at the end of this year, begin trial for a digital health travel pass which it is developing with the objective of ensuring safe border reopenings across the globe.

The IATA Travel Pass includes user biometrics through the One ID initiative for a single identity token, which is the basis of the contactless identity verification component included in the pass.

According to a press release issued by the association, work on the development of the digital ID pass is in its final phase and its full use will be launched during the first quarter of next year, after the scheduled cross-border tests.

IATA said the pass is being designed to manage and verify the secure flow of necessary testing or vaccine information among governments, airlines, laboratories and travellers, at a time when countries are privileging testing as a way of checking the importation of the coronavirus over quarantine measures which are generally seen as expensive and inconvenient.

Meeting needs of travel bubbles

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and chief executive officer underscored the importance of the travel pass.

“Today borders are double locked,” he says. “Testing is the first key to enable international travel without quarantine measures. The second key is the global information infrastructure needed to securely manage, share and verify test data matched with traveler identities in compliance with border control requirements. That’s the job of IATA Travel Pass. 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.”

According to the release, systematic COVID-19 testing of all international travelers is necessary, and the infrastructure needed to enable the flow of testing information must be able to support governments with the means to verify the authenticity of tests and the identity of those presenting the test certificates. The infrastructure must also equip airlines with the ability to provide accurate information to their passengers on test requirements and verify that a passenger meets the requirements for travel, provide laboratories with the means to issue digital certificates to passengers that will be recognized by governments, and furnish travelers with accurate information on test requirements.

Testing as replacement for quarantine

“Our main priority is to get people traveling again safely. 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,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security.

“And we have built it using a modular approach based on open source standards to facilitate interoperability. It can be used in combination with other providers or as a standalone end-to-end solution. The most important thing is that it is responsive to industry’s needs while enabling a competitive market,” he added.

The travel pass is built with four interoperable open-sourced modules including a global registry of health requirements, a global registry of testing and vaccination centers, a lab app and the IATA Contactless Travel App for digital ID verification and travel document management, which can all be linked up for an-end-to-end solution.

IATA said it has been working in close collaboration with International Airlines Group (IAG) to develop the solution. IATA represents some 290 airlines which are said to constitute about 82 percent of global air traffic.

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