More airlines embrace digital health passports for Covid-safe travel

After testing, secure data infrastructure is needed to get the world flying again, says IATA boss.

Digital health passports
JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic have joined Cathay Pacific Airways and United Airlines to use the CommonPass for flights. Photo Credit: Gettyimages

Following a trial period that began in early October, the 'CommonPass' digital health passport will expand use in December with JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic using it for select flights departing New York, Boston, London and Hong Kong.

CommonPass is a collaborative effort of the World Economic Forum, the non-profit Commons Project Foundation and public and private partners from 37 countries. The trial in October was done by Cathay Pacific Airways and United Airlines on flights between Hong Kong, Singapore, London and New York.

CommonPass is an app that stores and verifies a traveller's Covid-19 test status by assessing whether test results come from a trusted source and whether they satisfy the screening requirements of the destination. The system delivers a “yes” or “no” while keeping the health information private.

“Through our 'Safety from the Ground Up' program, JetBlue has been a leader in providing a layered approach to safety on the ground and in the air, including being the first U.S. airline to require facial coverings,” said Joanna Geraghty, president, and chief operating officer, JetBlue.

“We are excited to be one of the first airlines in the world to partner with CommonPass to provide another layer of safety to air travel in the United States and around the world. Reliable testing, combined with digital health passes, is another way to restore customer confidence and safely restore air travel.”

Also revealed on 25 November was an update from the Airport Council International World, representing 2,000 airports globally, who joined the CommonTrust Network, which also includes the participating airlines and a global network of labs, vaccine distributors and health care providers.

“The members of the CommonTrust Network are coming together to implement an inclusive global network designed to empower individuals with digital access to their health information so they can protect and improve their health, and demonstrate their health status to safely return to travel, work, school, and life, while protecting their data privacy,” said Paul Meyer, CEO of The Commons Project Foundation.

“We welcome collaboration with key stakeholders across all sectors, including IATA in aviation.”

CommonPass is just one of several digital health passports in development.

On 23 November, IATA announced it will conduct a pilot of its IATA Travel Pass before the end of 2020, with launch slated for the first quarter of 2021.

“Today borders are double locked. 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 traveller identities in compliance with border control requirements. That’s the job of IATA Travel Pass,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.

“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.”

Also in November, Ink Aviation, a provider of technology solutions to airports and airlines, announced the launch of the Ink Digital Health Platform in partnership with Tento Health.

The platform allows passengers to verify their health credentials using options such as biometrics, health wallet QR codes, physical passports and boarding passes and works with any departure control system, immigration systems and all self-sovereign digital health passports.

And International SOS, a medical and security services company serving more than 11,000 clients globally, has launched AOKpass, in conjunction with the International Chamber of Commerce. The app, which uses blockchain technology to store COVID-19 health status, was tested in September on routes from Pakistan to Abu Dhabi and is expected to announce more pilots soon.

Source: Phocuswire