Saudi Arabia national flag carrier Saudia has said in a statement released today that it plans to trial the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Pass on flights between Kuala Lumpur and Jeddah starting from April 19, 2021. The statement says that it sees the IATA digital health Travel Pass as a way to safely reopen borders and assist in the recovery of the aviation sector after the impact it has suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Already being trialed by over 20 other airlines and fully approved for all passengers arriving in Singapore, the IATA Travel Pass is a mobile phone app that provides a digital health passport of a passenger’s PCR test results and proof of COVID-19 vaccination. The app also provides up-to-date information on different country’s coronavirus requirements. It can be used as proof of a negative PCR test or vaccination for arriving and departing passengers.
Saudia will later use the app for all flights
Before departing Kuala Lumpur for Jeddah, Saudia customers can visit a designated laboratory in Malaysia to have a PCR test done and then upload it to the IATA Travel Pass. This can then show airline staff at check-in and immigration authorities when arriving in Saudi Arabia proof of a negative PCR test or vaccination.
Saudia says that following what it expects will be a successful trial; it will accept the IATA Travel Pass across its entire network. When speaking about the partnership with IATA and the Travel Pass trial Saudia Chief Commercial Officer Khalid Albassam said:
“Saudia is keen to partner with IATA in this innovative digital solution which will assist in steering industry recovery and facilitating the travel process for all stakeholders, the passenger, the airline, the testing labs, and the border authorities.”
“Saudia continues to lead the way in safety measures and ease of travel with electronic solutions, and the IATA Travel Pass partnership is another reinforcement that readiness and usage of contactless methods is the way forward for travel journeys,” Albassam added.
For its part, IATA Senior Vice President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security Nick Careen said:
“We’re proud to work with Saudia to make IATA Travel Pass available in Saudi Arabia. This is the first step in making regional and international travel during the pandemic as convenient as possible, giving people the confidence that they are meeting COVID-19 government health requirements. IATA Travel Pass holds the key to the safe restart of the travel and tourism industry, which is an important contributor to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s economy.”
How does the IATA Travel Pass work?
IATA would like to see its Travel Pass become the global standard solution for all airline passenger’s COVID-19 PCR test results or proof of vaccination. IATA constantly updates the Travel Pass with all country’s COVID-19 requirements. The Travel Pass incorporates four interoperable modules to facilitate COVID-19 travel requirements:
- The app allows passengers to find information on testing, travel, and vaccination requirements specific to their journey
- The app allows passengers to locate accredited testing centers at their departure and arrival locations
- The app allows recognized laboratories and test centers to securely send test results or vaccination certificates to passengers
- The Travel Pass app enables passengers to create a digital passport, verify their test or vaccination and be able to share that information with airlines or immigration authorities for a seamless travel experience
When writing earlier about the IATA Travel Pass, we discovered that it currently only works on Apple iOS smartphones. A statement released by IATA says it expects to roll out an Android version of the app by the end of this month.
What airlines are trialing the app?
As we mentioned earlier, following Singapore Airlines trial of the app on flights between Singapore and London, the Republic of Singapore is now accepting the app as proof of testing or vaccination for all travelers arriving in the city-state by air. Other airlines trialing the app include the following carriers:
- Singapore Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Malaysia Airlines
- Copa Airlines
- Air New Zealand
- Gulf Air
- Air Serbia
- Thai Smile
- Korean Air
- Virgin Atlantic
- Ethiopian Airlines
- HongKong Airlines
Following Singapore’s move to accept the IATA Travel Pass, I think that we could soon see other counties follow suit. The IATA Travel Pass could very well become the industry standard. Interestingly, if you look at the above list of airlines trailing the app, none of them are North American carriers despite IATA being headquartered in Montreal, Canada.
Have you used the IATA Travel Pass yet? If so, please tell us how you liked or disliked it in the comments.