Copa Airlines Looks To Introduce IATA’s Health Passport

Copa Airlines and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) will partner to trial the IATA Travel Pass in Latin America, starting in March. The Panamanian carrier will be the first to introduce IATA’s mobile app in the Americas. What does this mean for the passengers of Copa Airlines?

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Copa Airlines and IATA are introducing IATA’s Travel Pass in Latin America. Photo: Getty Images

What’s the IATA Travel Pass?

Currently, many countries and airlines are trialing different digital health passports. For instance, the European Commission is exploring proposals to introduce vaccine passports; British Airways and American Airlines launched its Verifly Health Passport; and IATA, along with several airlines, is promoting the IATA Travel Pass. Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad have already announced their intentions to launch this app.

IATA’s Travel Pass will effectively act as a ‘digital passport’ for travelers. It is the airline industry’s latest tool to fight against the spread of COVID-19, said Akbar Al Baker, Qatar’s CEO, last month.

The digital passport will allow passengers to match their travel itineraries with their destination’s COVID-19 health requirements and validate that they comply with these.

It will “simplify and enhance compliance with health requirements for our passengers. An international standard solution for digital health passports holds the key to the safe restart of the travel and tourism industry,” said Dan Gunn, Copa’s Senior Vice President for Operations.

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Many airlines, like Copa and American, are developing health passports to restore air connectivity. Photo: Getty Images.

How does it work?

IATA introduced its Travel Pass as a global, standardized solution to validate and authenticate all country regulations regarding COVID-19 passenger travel requirements. It will incorporate four open-sourced and interoperable modules, according to the Association.

For example, it will include a registry of testing and, eventually, vaccination centers. The platform will also enable authorized labs and test centers to send test results or vaccination certificates to passengers securely.

The passengers will also have the means to upload their certificates on their phones and share them securely. Plus, the app will have a digital identity to verify the owner of the certificate.

IATA’s Travel Pass is one of many similar solutions developed around the world. Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s CEO, recently said,

“Others are developing their own solutions. We do not see this as a competition. Our aim is to ensure that travelers, governments, and the industry have access to reliable, cost-effective, easy to use, efficient, interoperable, and secure systems.”

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Copa Airlines heavily depends on international traffic; therefore it really needs a health passport. Photo: Getty Images

What does this mean for Copa Airlines?

Copa Airlines shares many attributes with the likes of Etihad, Emirates, and Singapore Airlines, all of which are also promoting health passports. For instance, they all mostly serve international destinations rather than domestic routes.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, their markets are volatile. They can close at any second, pushing these airlines to an unseen level of uncertainty.

Copa Airlines is barely just restarting its operations after months grounded. Nevertheless, the second and third waves of COVID-19, as well as new variants of the disease, are throwing Latin America back into border closure. Ivan Eskildsen, the administrator of the Panama Tourism Authority, said,

“The Government of Panama supports the implementation of this important tool developed by IATA that, through its integration with different stakeholders, will allow passengers to comply with our health requirements, thus restoring confidence in travel and tourism, important pillars for the country’s economic recovery.” 

Both Panama and Copa Airlines heavily rely on international traffic. Therefore, it is only logical that they partner with IATA to try to restore confidence in travel and tourism.

Are you interested in using IATA’s Travel App? Are you worried about it? Let us know in the comments.