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How the IATA Travel Pass can help kickstart air travel

Technology has helped us to navigate this pandemic in more ways than one. And now the airline industry is looking at how an app can help us to travel once more.

Apps like the IATA Travel Pass integrate fully with airline systems and allow their passengers to create their own digital passports complete with test results and vaccination certificates. This, IATA says, is the key to giving governments the confidence to reopen borders. To restore confidence fully though, there needs to be a way of verifying test results and vaccination certificates. One way is using approved labs, something Qatar Airways are due to trial imminently.

Airlines also need to engage with their passengers. With an 80-90% adoption rate of this new technology, airlines will have the resource to focus on those travellers that don’t want to use the app.  With many of us using our smartphones for just about everything these days, there is unlikely to be an issue with people being able to use an app. The question is will people trust an app at a time when we are increasingly skeptical of how companies are using our data? IATA is keen to stress they won’t have a central database and want passengers to be in control of their own data.

Many airlines pre-pandemic were using apps to allow customers to manage their own journey. In time, Covid-19 apps could evolve to allow passengers to travel using biometric data that will provide a secure and hygienic way of travelling. This is win-win for both the airline, who doesn’t have to spend as much on staffing costs, and the passenger, who not only has a seamless journey through the terminal but also a safer one with fewer touchpoints along the way.

Ministers are now advising against booking holidays, which has been met with anger from those in the aviation and travel sector who have still not been given a clear roadmap out of this lockdown. There is certainly an appetite for Covid-19 apps – 20 airlines are already signed up to trial the IATA Travel Pass and there is optimism amongst the industry that this, combined with ongoing advocacy work, will convince governments it’s time to reopen our borders.

Words: Sophie Holloway