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What is an IATA travel pass and will the UK have vaccine passports?


Feb 22, 2021

Masks onboard planes could be around for a while… but at least you’ll be able to travel soon (Picture: Getty)

IATA travel passes could be the way to kickstart international travel – but what are the UK’s plans when it comes to digital Covid-19 vaccine passports?

In February, quarantine measures were finally brought in for those arriving in England for those who have returned from countries on the red list.

But there are still several hurdles to overcome before holidays abroad can resume – so how can an IATA travel pass help?

Digital vaccine passports could be used worldwide if trials are successful (Picture: Getty)

What is an IATA travel pass?

An IATA travel pass is essentially a digital health passport that will help increase safe travel to aid governments in keeping track of those who have had the coronavirus vaccine.

The pass, developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), is a mobile application that helps travellers to store and manage their verified certifications for Covid-19 tests or Covid-19 vaccines.

The IATA travel pass aims to help:

  • Governments with the means to verify the authenticity of tests and the identity of those presenting the test certificates.
  • Airlines with the ability to provide accurate information to their passengers on test requirements and verify that a passenger meets the requirements for travel.
Digital vaccine passports will speed up the rate at which international travel can return to normal (Picture: Getty)
  • Laboratories with the means to issue certificates to passengers that will be recognised by governments.
  • Travellers with accurate information on test requirements, where they can get tested or vaccinated, and the means to securely convey test information to airlines and border authorities.

The IATA is currently working with different airlines during the trial phase before getting involved with official government and health bodies.

Which countries are currently trialling the IATA travel pass?

Air New Zealand has announced plans to trial the digital health passport on flights between Auckland, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia from April.

Qatar Airways has also joined fellow Gulf carriers Emirates and Etihad in announcing plans to trial the IATA Travel Pass ‘Digital Passport’ app.

Qatar Airways will begin trials of the app on its Doha-Istanbul route in March.

Etihad will be trialling the app on ‘selected flights from Abu Dhabi in the first quarter of 2021’, while Emirates is to start the first phase of its rollout in April.

According to Executive Traveller, a spokesperson for IATA has confirmed British Airways will also test the waters and begin its own trials on selected routes from mid-February.

Does the UK plan to create an IATA travel pass?

British Airways are reportedly set to trial the IATA travel pass on selected routes (Picture: Getty)

The aim of the IATA travel pass is to help provide governments with the confidence to reopen borders without quarantine.

There have been conflicting reports over whether the UK will adopt a similar approach to what Australia and New Zealand are currently trialling.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that in future some countries will require proof of vaccination to allow entry and the government ‘obviously want to make sure that Brits can fulfil that’.

The government’s hand could be forced into it though with some holiday firms such as Saga, which specialises in holidays for the over-50s, announcing passengers on its 2021 holidays or cruises must be fully vaccinated.

Ministers are discussing the possibility of an international certificate system, but vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has said it will not be called a ‘vaccine passport’.

British developers Mvine and iProov are working on an immunity and vaccination passport, which is being tested by the NHS.

Doctor warns travellers to be ‘cautious’ when booking summer holidays over risk of bringing back ‘mutant viruses’

MORE : Hope for holidays grows as Greece says no testing needed if you have a vaccine

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Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown

Boris Johnson has laid out his plans to lift Covid-19 restrictions in England, following weeks of lockdown which began on January 4.

The Prime Minister confirmed that the route back to normality will depend upon four tests for easing restrictions and will take into account the success of the vaccine rollout.

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