IATA Travel Pass boosts Gulf airlines

Six new airlines join Emirates Airlines in implementing this innovative application

PHOTO/EMIRATES  -   Emirates has decided to suspend all passenger flights from 25 March and to cut staff salaries in order to avoid redundancies.

The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked and continues to wreak havoc on airlines around the world. The recovery from the decline in commercial flights is slow and complicated, but in the Gulf they have found one of the keys that could mark a turning point in the gradual reactivation of air traffic. This initiative is known as the IATA (International Air Transport Association) Travel Pass, which has already been implemented by Emirates Airlines for some time and will now also be accepted by Etihad Airways, Jazeera Airways, Qatar Airways, Jetstar, Royal Jordanian and Qantas.

The IATA Travel Pass app can be downloaded from the Play Store or the Apple Store and has been in testing for eleven months by 76 different airlines, although, until now, Emirates had been the only one to use it effectively. IATA director general Willie Walsh believes the app is "an effective tool for managing the complex mess of travel health credentials required by governments". That's because the app simultaneously provides information on destination restrictions, PCR or antigen test results and scans of their vaccination certificates.

REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE - International Air Transport Association (IATA) Logo

The IATA Travel Pass application currently manages the vaccination certificates of 52 different countries, representing 56% of the world's air traffic. By the end of November, that figure is expected to rise to 74 countries, which would represent a jump to 85% of all global air travel. This significant leap comes as, according to Walsh, thanks to many months of extensive testing, "the IATA Travel Pass is entering an operational phase". This phase will be a reality for more and more airlines as, in addition to these six new ones, some such as Aeromexico have been testing for some time with an imminent implementation on the horizon.

The International Air Transport Association considers that "it is a great vote of confidence that some of the world's best-known airline brands will make it available to their customers in the coming months". The fundamental intention of this tool is to speed up the processes that have inevitably been delayed by the sanitary control imposed by the different countries. The arrival of the vaccine and the improvement in the level of sanitary saturation allow some leeway when it comes to establishing strict controls at airports, something that is intended to be maintained and, together with this application, progressively reduced.

REUTERS/WILLY KURNIAWAN - Passengers wearing protective masks respect social distance markings on the ground as they queue at check-in counters at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Indonesia May 12, 2020.

IATA says that it is the public themselves who welcome the implementation of this tool on more airlines. The association commissioned a survey last month of more than 4,700 people in eleven different markets. The results of this questionnaire demonstrate the public's confidence in this type of measure and the guarantee it provides to ensure the protection of everyone who wants to travel.

The IATA figures represent a significant improvement on a similar survey conducted in early June. At that time, only 55% believed that the borders of all countries should be open and allow free passage of passengers, while the new data shows a rise to 67%. In addition, 64% believe that border closures have not been effective in preventing contagion - up 11% from June -. The rise in these percentages represents what most of the world's society feels is already here, and that is a return to the former normality.