Air New Zealand will use its popular Auckland to Sydney route to trial a smartphone app that verifies whether passengers have been vaccinated against – or tested negative to – Covid prior to travel.
The ‘Travel Pass’ app, which has been developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to standardise the health verification process, will be trialled over three weeks in April.
A number of other airlines, including Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad, are already trialling the app, while Qantas is reportedly considering it alongside other options.
The app has been developed to replace the existing paper-based method of providing proof of vaccination in international travel, colloquially knowns as the ‘yellow book’.
It will be used to check passengers meet travel requirements for Covid tests or vaccines, depending on the country they are travelling to, without storing information in a central database.
Passengers will use the app to create a digital passport linked to their e-passport, receive test results and vaccination details from laboratories and share that information with airlines and authorities.
According to the IATA [pdf], the app will act as a secure channel for registered laboratories to send results to a passenger, although it does “not verify the test or vaccine results”.
Air New Zealand said it was “in conversation with government agencies about options for validation of testing and vaccination”.
Chief digital officer Jennifer Sepull said the app would allow customers and employees to manage their digital travel documentation.
“Once borders reopen, travel is going to look very different, with customers’ health data needing to be verified at check-in,” she said.
“It’s essentially like having a digital health certificate that can be easily and securely shared with airlines.
“This will give customers peace of mind that they meet all travel requirements for the different countries around the world before they even get to the airport.”
Sepull said that the app would give customers the “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,” she added.
IATA airport, passenger, cargo and security senior vice president Nick Careen said the trial is an important milestone towards restarting international travel.
"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,” he said.