Global aviation industry backs COVID-19 ‘e-pass’ to fly

 

Costly hotel quarantine rules for foreign travellers has "killed" demand to travel to Australia, torn apart global social fabric and the government needed to urgently look at alternatives such as a travel pass app, the aviation industry has demanded.

In a strongly worded resolution overnight, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said it was time the world learned to live with the virus and introduce mandatory testing for air travellers.

To date the industry body, which represents almost all the airlines in the world including Qantas and Virgin, has confined remarks to the dire economic state of the industry created by the pandemic now closing in on one year.

But speaking at its annual albeit this year virtually held AGM the body said it was time to move on - literally - and encourage overseas travel by abolishing border closures and or costly mandatory hotel quarantines, replacing them with new measures such introducing systemic testing.

Waiting for vaccinations by the middle of next year "was not an option" and introducing a mobile phone app that charts a traveller's COVID-19 history should also be fast-tracked.

It is akin to the 'yellow book" inoculation booklet that exists today that some international airports and airlines require before allowing travel so as to limit the potential spread of diseases such as yellow fever.

 

Australia has long had a vaccination travel booklet, mandatory for travel to some countries and through airports to stop the spread of certain diseases like Yellow Fever. A COVID-19 version would be electronic. Picture: Charles Miranda
Australia has long had a vaccination travel booklet, mandatory for travel to some countries and through airports to stop the spread of certain diseases like Yellow Fever. A COVID-19 version would be electronic. Picture: Charles Miranda

 

IATA's outgoing chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said as an industry it was clear the entire travel process would have to change to ensure travel safety in the era of COVID-19 in conjunction with the entire travel chain.

It starts with multi-layered biosafety measures at airports and goes to a one-stop shop "IATA Travel Pass" that carry a QR coded testing and vaccination certificates for individuals, creates a digital passport for contactless travel and carriage of all documents and recognised by entire global aviation industry.

The app would be used to verify identity and meet government testing/vaccination regulations for specific destinations before declaring "OK to travel" status.

Decentralised technology meant there was no central database holding passenger information, an issue some felt strongly about.

 

The International Air Transport Association wants to introduce a global aviation industry recognised “Travel Pass” that carries QR coded testing and vaccination certificates for individual travellers, creates a digital passport for contactless travel and carriage of all documents digitally. Picture: IATA
The International Air Transport Association wants to introduce a global aviation industry recognised “Travel Pass” that carries QR coded testing and vaccination certificates for individual travellers, creates a digital passport for contactless travel and carriage of all documents digitally. Picture: IATA

 

"Quarantines essentially kill demand for air travel and governments need to immediately consider the drastic socio-economic effect this is having," Mr de Juniac said.

"People want and need global mobility … We must manage how we live with the virus. But that does not have to mean destroying aviation, risking millions of jobs, crippling economies and tearing apart the international social fabric. We could safely open borders today with systematic COVID-19 testing."

Qantas boss Alan Joyce attracted a backlash from some quarters after saying he believed the airline would require passengers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before travelling on international flights. Most airlines in the world agree and backed the IATA resolutions.

"We are looking at changing our terms and conditions, to say for international, that we will ask people to have a vaccination before getting on the aircraft," Mr Joyce said, adding a "vaccination passport" was a good idea.

"We think for international visitors coming out, and people leaving the country, we think that's a necessity."

Mr de Juniac also added airline crews should be considered essential services and be up high on the list for vaccinations once they are introduced in 2021.

International air travel today continues to remain down by 90 per cent on 2019 levels.

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Global aviation industry backs COVID-19 'e-pass' to fly


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