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UAE airlines first to back IATA’s travel pass

written by Hannah Dowling | January 20, 2021

UAE-based airlines Emirates and Etihad have both announced they will be among the first airlines to trial the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) new Travel Pass.

The Travel Pass has been rolled out by IATA in an attempt to re-open international borders.

The digital pass contains vital information on passenger’s past COVID-related medical history, including test results and vaccination status, which can be shown to relevant authorities while travelling.

The application can also provide passengers with helpful information on regulatory entry requirements for different countries, as well as provide locations for testing facilities.

Both airlines and governments around the world have already implemented policies and requirements for pre-flight negative COVID test results, with many intending to require proof of vaccination against the virus in the near future prior to boarding flights or entering countries.

The recent announcement of the partnership between the IATA and both Etihad and Emirates means that Dubai and Abu Dhabi will become hubs for the trial of these new ‘digital passports’.

Prior to a full global roll out of the Travel Pass, Emirates will implement phase one trials in Dubai for the validation of COVID-19 PCR tests before departure.

In this initial phase, expected to begin in April, Emirates customers travelling from Dubai will be able to share their COVID-19 test status directly with the airline even before reaching the airport through the app, which will then auto-populate the details on the check-in system.

Currently, travellers to Dubai must produce two negative COVID-19 tests, one taken up to 96-hours prior to departure, and a second upon arrival in Dubai.

Speaking of the partnership, Emirates’ chief operating officer Adel Al Redha said, “While international travel remains as safe as ever, there are new protocols and travel requirements with the current global pandemic. We have worked with IATA on this innovative solution to simplify and digitally transmit the information that is required by countries and governments into our airline systems, in a secure and efficient manner.”

Meanwhile, in Abu Dhabi, the Travel Pass system will be offered to passengers on select Etihad flights out of the airport. Abu Dhabi also requires incoming passengers to present a negative COVID PCR test within 48 hours of arrival.

Etihad Aviation Group chief operating officer Mohammad Al Bulooki stated that a combination of testing and vaccination against COVID-19 is the “key” to ramping up demand for international travel once more.

“A high priority for Etihad is for our guests to have an easy, secure and efficient way to identify and verify their information,” he said.

“Being one of the first airlines globally working with IATA as a pioneer partner on the IATA Travel Pass is a big step forward for Etihad’s guests and for the industry.”


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