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Air New Zealand To Trial Vaccine Passport On International Flights

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In an attempt to streamline the health verification process, Air New Zealand will be among the first to trial IATA’s Travel Pass App on its international route to Australia.

The digital passport developed by the International Air Transport Association certifies and validates passengers’ health and vaccination status in accordance with COVID-19 travel requirements.

health passport of vaccination certification on phone at airport

Essentially, the online platform allows passengers to create a ‘digital passport’ containing their test records and immunization status prior to travel.

The data can be shared with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel. The app also enables users to manage all travel-related documentation digitally.

Air New Zealand plane takeoff

In a recent press release, the Auckland-based airline announced that it will trial the digital Travel Pass app developed by IATA for three consecutive weeks on its Auckland-Sydney route in April.

Both airline staff and passengers will engage in this program, the timeline of which aligns with Australia’s largest roll-out of vaccines, with the first round of vaccination targeted towards 12,000 border workers. 

airport checkin desk e-passport phone

In this regard, Air New Zealand Chief Digital Officer Jennifer Sepull stated: 

“Reassuring customers that travel is in fact safe is one of our priorities. By using the app, customers can have confidence that everyone onboard meets the same government health requirements they do. {…} By having a place to store all your health credentials digitally in one place, it will not only speed up the check-in process but unlock the potential for contactless travel.”

traveler mask New Zealand

Currently pending release, IATA’s Travel Pass app uses facial recognition features to match biometrics data contained in passport chips.

According to IATA, testing is the current resolution to safely restart travel, which is likely to soon shift to vaccination requirements. Hence, a system to adequately manage COVID-19 testing and vaccination documents is imperative. 

With this new app, IATA looks to achieve the global standard certified by governments to ensure verified identity and test/vaccine data.

Man wearing face mask on phone waiting for flight at airport

IATA's Senior Vice President Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security, Nick Careen says Air New Zealand’s initiative of testing the Travel Pass is a step towards resuming international travel.  

“Air New Zealand is demonstrating its industry leadership being among the first airlines in the world to offer its passengers a digital travel pass. {…} Air New Zealand's trial of IATA Travel Pass will help give governments the confidence to re-open borders and passengers the confidence to travel,” said Careen. 

passenger check in phone app

About Travel Pass App

The digital app stores encrypted data including certified test or vaccination information on the traveler's mobile device.

It is up to the user’s discretion to share this data with airlines and governments. The traveler is in full control of their information that is sealed by data-protection laws including General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR).

The IATA Travel Pass is set for release in Q1 of this year and will be available free of charge for download on iOS and PlayStore. On iPhones, the app will employ the Secure Enclave features of Apple devices and likewise a security encryption technology on Android. 

passenger mask phone

Although the format of the app to be used on Air Zealand flights will be digital in the form of a Contactless Travel App installed on a smartphone, IATA has additionally designed physical versions of the system, stating there will be “paper-based alternatives for people who do not have mobile phones”. However, the method relies primarily on digital models of the passport.

“It's essentially like having a digital health certificate that can be easily and securely shared with airlines,” said Sepull.

IATA Travel Pass Overview
Credit: IATA Travel Pass Initiative

How it works

Users will be able to create a digital health wallet connected to their e-passport. Once tested or vaccinated, labs will securely transfer the results to the user’s app.

The information can then be used to determine whether the traveler fits the health and safety standards of the country they are planning to visit and if they are eligible for entry. 

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