As airlines scramble to seek a solution to the long-running travel downturn, digital health passports are fast emerging as a part of that solution. The digital health passport market is a crowded one but some are fast gaining traction. The CommonPass is one proving a hit and this week another airline trialed it on a long-haul flight.
Cathay Pacific pilots and crew trial digital health pass on a flight to Los Angeles
Cathay Pacific’s pilots and crew trialed CommonPass on a scheduled service from Hong Kong to Los Angeles earlier this week. It went well. Los Angeles is one of Cathay Pacific’s few remaining destinations. CX880 jets across the North Pacific to LAX twice a week now. On Monday, pilots and crew operating the flight trialed the digital CommonPass app.
Data was uploaded onto the app on each pilot and crew member’s smartphone. That data included the person’s name, travel document number, and confirmation that their negative COVID-19 PCR test result was within the prescribed timeframe and conducted at accredited labs.
“For borders to reopen fully once again, travelers may need to provide COVID-19 test and vaccination records that meet government requirements in order to travel,” says Cathay Pacific’s Vivian Lo.
“We believe that digital travel passes will play an important role in helping facilitate the safe, progressive return of international travel. We have therefore been collaborating with our industry partners to pursue the adoption of universally recognized digital travel passes.”
Cathay Pacific trails different digital health passports
This is not Cathay Pacific’s first trial of a digital health passport. Last year, the airline trialed CommonPass on flights between Hong Kong and Singapore, the first airline in the world to do so. For the airline, it is a matter of getting familiar with digital health passports and hoping some of them stick and gain broad international acceptance.
Right now, the people and businesses behind various digital health passports are busy trying to stand out in a crowded and noisy environment. IATA’s Travel Pass is proving popular. Singapore Airlines is presently piloting it among passengers and crew on flights between Singapore and London. Air New Zealand is trialing it next month on flights between Auckland and Sydney.
CommonPass, developed by The Commons Project, a Swiss-based non-profit social enterprise keen to reboot travel, is also standing out from the crowd.
Other airlines successfully trial CommonPass
United Airlines successfully trialed the CommonPass app among passengers and crew last October. That saw JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic then get onboard.
“Trials with solutions like CommonPass are critical to demonstrate the potential for testing as an alternative to blanket quarantine measures or travel restrictions,” said United Airlines’ Steve Morrissey.
More recently, Qantas trialed CommonPass on a flight from Frankfurt. The Australian airline says a digital health passport will be key to getting people flying again, particularly long-haul and across borders.
“COVID test results and proof of vaccine will be required in many countries for quarantine-free travel, just as it has been for polio and yellow fever vaccinations in the past,” a Qantas spokesperson said.
From Cathay Pacific’s point of view, digital health passports are the logical way forward. Passengers need to work out the nuts and bolts of using the passports. But having done that, digital health passports will make travel more efficient and far less stressful. For the airlines, digital health passports are shaping up as a key tool to reverse the travel downturn. Then, people and planes might get flying again.
What do you think? Are digital health passports like CommonPass part of the future of travel? Post a comment and let us know.