AIR NEW ZEALAND TO TRIAL VACCINE PASSPORTS
Air New Zealand will ask its passengers to use a digital health pass on flights to Australia as a trial run for a future digital “vaccine passport” that travellers will use to confirm that they have been immunized against Covid-19, offering a possible glimpse into international travel in the post-pandemic world.
- The airline announced Monday that the trial will use the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA’s) Travel Pass app on its Auckland-Sydney flights for three weeks in April.
- The app—designed by the airline industry trade body IATA—will give passengers information about what tests and vaccines they need to enter their destination and it will also be able to receive verified test results or vaccination certificates directly from participating health providers.
- Use of the app won’t be mandatory during the trial and will likely only be used to show Covid-19 test results, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
- Air New Zealand will be the first airline to use IATA’s app, but others like Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and British Airways have all said they plan to use it in the future
- Australia started its Covid-19 vaccination program on Monday and New Zealand started its roll out just a few days ago as both countries have managed to keep the outbreak under control through lockdowns, quarantines and contact tracing
While Covid-19 vaccines are not required for international travel at the moment, that could be the case in the near future. In November, Australia’s flag carrier Qantas became the first major airline to state that it will require international passengers to prove that they have received a Covid-19 vaccine as a condition for travelling. While other airlines haven’t outlined their vaccine policies, many now require passengers to show a Covid-19 negative test that is less than 72 hours old. However, vaccine requirements are unlikely to be put in place by airlines anytime soon as many countries are just beginning to roll out their vaccines.
Critics of vaccines travel passes have expressed concern over privacy and the discriminatory impact of such a system due to the unequal rollout of vaccines. Raman Jit Singh Chima, Asia policy director at digital rights non-profit Access Now told Reuters: “The use of digital certificates for travel is concerning — it has implications for human rights, and it limits access to travel. Any vaccine certificate needs to be carefully regulated, with a clearly defined and narrow purpose of checking if someone has received the vaccine. It should not be used to limit people from travel, livelihoods or societal participation.”