A mobile application that will enable travelers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or a vaccination will be rolled out on Apple’s platform in mid-April.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is developing the digital pass, had planned to release it by the end of March. A spokesperson told The Epoch Times via email on April 6 that the IATA Travel Pass will be launched in mid-April for iOS, Apple’s platform, and mid-May for Android.
Governments requiring testing or vaccination proof as a condition of travel can use the app, trusting that the information supplied is verified, the association states on its website.
“With this app, IATA also aims to provide governments with the confidence to reopen borders without imposing quarantines on incoming travelers,” it states.
The free app will include up-to-date travel, testing, and vaccine requirements for different legs of a trip, a global registry of testing and vaccination centers, and an option to create a “digital passport” that would let travelers share testing or vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel.
IATA Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East Kamil Alawadhi said late last month that the pass “will only achieve its success once airlines, different countries, airports adopt it,” Reuters reported.
“A huge amount of airlines have requested to be on board,” he added.
Virgin Atlantic plans to trial the app on UK–Barbados flights starting on April 16. The trial is in collaboration with the government of Barbados, which will accept the pass at its border.
Fliers can participate in the trial by downloading the pass on their smartphone and creating a digital ID that will feature a profile photograph and passport information before uploading the relevant COVID-19 information, Virgin Atlantic stated in a recent statement.
“Our Barbados trial with IATA Travel Pass is an exciting step towards a ‘digital health pass’ as we actively explore secure solutions to integrate testing, vaccination, health documents, and locator forms into our customer journeys,” said Corneel Koster, chief customer and operating officer for Virgin Atlantic.
Barbados Sen. Lisa Cummins, the country’s tourism minister, added that “we welcome this progressive step which complements our already implemented public health protocols and programs.”
“The IATA Travel Pass lends an extra element of safety to both our visitors and Barbadians, giving them the confidence that we are engaging in and promoting travel that protects us all,” she said. “As we look ahead to the next few months, our intention is to create a new-look tourism industry that holistically reflects the new public health imperatives.”
Other airlines, including Emirates and Air New Zealand, are also trying out the pass, according to IATA.
An official with the association told The Epoch Times this week that it doesn’t support governments making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for travel.
U.S. companies are also developing so-called vaccine passports, which a slew of officials envision being required across different modes of transportation in the near future.
While enthusiasm for the passports is high among some, experts have expressed concern for the loss of freedom they represent.
“As we start to get this virus properly under control, we should start getting our freedoms back. Vaccine passports—essentially COVID ID cards—take us in the other direction,” said Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the UK.