How will IATA’s Travel Pass impact travel?

How will IATA’s Travel Pass impact travel?


Recently, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released IATA Travel Pass, a global and standardized solution to validate and authenticate all country regulations regarding COVID-19 passenger travel requirements. HN interviewed Katherine Kaczynska, manager corporate communications at IATA to know more about this new solution, and to find out how it will impact the travel industry.

Tell us more about the COVID-19 passport and the concept behind?

IATA Travel Pass is a mobile application that helps travelers to store and manage their verified certificates for COVID-19 tests or COVID-19 vaccines. This will be important for governments that are likely to require either verified testing or vaccination proof as a condition of international travel during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The IATA Travel Pass will be more secure and efficient than current paper processes used to manage health requirements. This will be important given the potentially enormous scale of testing or vaccine verifications that will need to be securely managed.

Who is eligible to carry it and what does it allow its holder?

IATA Travel Pass is available to anyone with a smartphone. It allows travelers to travel with ease while meeting any government requirements for COVID-19 tests or vaccines. The IATA Travel Pass has four open and interoperable modules which together create the end-to-end solution. IATA Travel Pass incorporates include:

  1. Global registry of health requirements – enables passengers to find accurate information on travel, testing and eventually vaccine requirements for their journey.
  2. Global registry of testing / vaccination centers – enables passengers to find testing centers and labs at their departure location which meet the standards for testing and vaccination requirements of their destination.
  3. Lab App – enables authorized labs and test centers to securely share test and vaccination certificates with passengers.
  4. IATA Travel Pass App – enables passengers to (1) create a ‘digital passport’, (2) receive test and vaccination certificates and verify that they are sufficient for their itinerary, and (3) share testing or vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel. This app can also be used by travelers to manage travel documentation digitally and seamlessly throughout their journey, improving travel experience

What does it cost?

IATA Travel Pass will be free for passengers to download and use. For airlines, we aim to make this solution as low cost as possible while ensuring that the solution is robust. 

For how long would it be valid for?

The ok to travel verification – generated by the IATA Travel Pass based on ensuring passengers have the correct COVID-19 status to fly to a particular destination is valid for one trip only as the health requirements change based on the destination. The IATA Travel Pass App, the element of the IATA Travel Pass which enables passengers to create a digital version of their passport on their smartphone could be valid until the expiry date on a passengers paper passport or otherwise stated.  

How can travelers use it?

Travelers will be able to download the IATA Travel Pass from the Apple App or android store for free once it has been launched early 2021. 

How do you assess the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry and how soon do you think it will bounce back?

Deep industry losses will continue into 2021, even though performance is expected to improve over the period of the forecast.  

  • A net loss of $118.5 billion is expected for 2020 (deeper than the $84.3 billion forecast in June). 
  • A net loss of $38.7 billion is expected in 2021 (deeper than the $15.8 billion forecast in June). 

Performance factors in 2021 will show improvements in 2020; and the second half of 2021 is expected to see improvements after a difficult 2021 first half. Aggressive cost-cutting is expected to combine with increased demand during 2021 (due to the reopening of borders with testing and/or the widespread availability of a vaccine) to see the industry turn cash-positive in the fourth quarter of 2021 which is earlier than previously forecast.    

How efficient do you think the new passport will be?

The digital travel credential or digital passport – one element of IATA Travel Pass – will only be effective if governments agree to accept the substitution of a conventional passport with a digital representation of the traveler’s identity which can, in turn, be validated using the travel document issuing authority’s public key infrastructure. 

How do you anticipate 2021 to be?

Performance factors in 2021 will show improvements in 2020; and the second half of 2021 is expected to see improvements after a difficult 2021 first half. Most importantly, people have not lost their desire to travel. The market response to even small measures to lift quarantine is immediate and strong. Where barriers have been removed, travel rebounded. The thirst for the freedom to fly has not been overcome by the crisis. There is every reason for optimism when governments use testing to open borders. And we need to make that happen fast.

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