Qantas gears up digital health pass ahead of international flights resuming

Qantas is working with the International Air Transport Association to make COVID-19 safe travel happen once Australia's borders re-open.

The Qantas Group has announced it will work with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to roll out a digital health pass when international flights resume.

According to Qantas, the IATA travel pass would enable certified testing labs -- with the consent of individuals -- to upload COVID-19 test results and vaccination information to the platform, which customers could then use to verify their health status with border and health officials and airline staff before receiving a green tick to travel if they met the requirements.

The company added the app would match a customer's health information against a specific flight, check the entry requirements for the country they are travelling to, and provide clearance to travel on that flight for both the customer and airline.

"We want to get our international flights back in the air and our people back to work and a digital health pass will be a key part of that," Qantas Group CIO Stephanie Tully said.

"Many governments are already requiring proof of vaccine or a negative COVID test result for international travel … a digital health pass will connect customers with COVID testing facilities, health authorities, and airlines, and ultimately enable the opening of more travel bubbles and borders."

The confirmation comes at a time when Qantas has been conducting "several digital solutions" trials on its international repatriation flights over recent months.

"The IATA travel pass will allow travellers to have their COVID test results and vaccine information verified securely, which will be their green light to fly internationally with us," Tully added.

"We're working closely with IATA to develop their travel pass to make the process as seamless as possible for Qantas and Jetstar customers as international borders start to re-open."

Air New Zealand ran trials using the IATA digital health pass over three weeks in April. It was tested by aircrew and customers who were invited to join the trial.

Last November, IATA boasted that it had reached the final development stage of a standardised digital platform, which it claimed would enable international borders to reopen safely and allow overseas travel to resume.

The IATA Travel Pass will incorporate four open-sourced and interoperable modules that the association claims will be combined to deliver an end-to-end solution.

These modules include a global registry that enables airline passengers to find accurate information about travel, testing, and eventually vaccine requirements for their journey, as well as the location of testing and vaccination centres at their departure location, which meet the standards for vaccination requirements of their destination.

The pass will also feature a lab app to enable authorised labs and test centres to share and test vaccination certificates with passengers, and a contactless travel app so passengers are able to create a digital passport that allows them to receive test and vaccination certificates to verify they can travel, which could then be shared with airlines and authorities.

The app could also be used by travellers to manage travel documentation digitally, the IATA added.  

The IATA also outlined that all technology used to develop the pass would be decentralised to ensure that no central database holding passenger information would exist to maintain a high level of data privacy and security. Instead, passengers would have the sole right to share their data and delete it from the app at any time.

The announcement comes as Australia struggles with its vaccine rollout. As of 28 July, just over 11.5 million doses of vaccine have been administered nationally.

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