Ethiopian Airlines Launches IATA Travel Pass Trials

Yet another airline is announcing that it will be trialing IATA’s Travel Pass – a digital health passport that will make the verification of COVID-19 tests and vaccinations easier for the carrier. Ethiopian Airlines is now the first African carrier to run through a test of the mobile app, joining other airlines such as Emirates, SWISS, Singapore Airlines, and more.

Ethiopian Airlines Launches IATA Travel Pass Trials
Ethiopian Airlines has a fleet of nearly 130 jets, which includes 16 Airbus A350-900s. Photo: Airbus

“Ethiopian has gone digital in all of its operations to avoid physical contact and combat the spread of the pandemic and now, embarks on this initiative which will allow passengers to relish unparalleled flight experience.” -Ethiopian Airlines official statement

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Where is the trial taking place?

The IATA Travel Pass, which will help verify the authenticity of test information presented by travelers, will be used by Ethiopian Airlines on two flights out of Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD):

  • Washington D.C. – Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
  • Toronto – Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ)

For flights to Addis Ababa, two airports will participate in this trial:

  • London Heathrow (LHR)
  • Toronto – Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ)

The airline notes that this was effective as of April 25th, 2021, meaning that the trial is already underway.

Ethiopian Airlines Launches IATA Travel Pass Trials
A visualization of the airports participating in this trial. Ethiopian flights to Toronto and Washington include technical stops, but this has not been included in the map to reduce confusion. Photo:

Solving problems through digital technology

Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, says that digital technology is vital to solving many of the problems that arise from the pandemic. Saying:

“We are glad that we are offering new digital opportunities to our passengers so as to fully and safely restart air travel. Our customers will enjoy efficient, contactless and safer travel experience with their travel pass digital passport. As a safety first airline, we have become the first African airline to trail IATA’s travel pass initiative to facilitate travel.”

For those still unfamiliar with IATA’s Travel Pass, the mobile app is designed to be a digital health passport of sorts, which will receive test and vaccination certificates and verify that they are sufficient for the traveler’s specific route.

Ethiopian Airlines Launches IATA Travel Pass Trials
Ethiopian has 27 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in its fleet. These are a mix of the -9 and shorter -8 variants. Photo: byeangel via Wikimedia Commons 

The app will share testing or vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel. “The digital travel app will also avoid fraudulent documentation and make air travel more convenient,” the airline’s official messaging adds.

Meanwhile, Nick Careen, IATA Senior Vice President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo, and Security, hopes that Ethiopian’s leadership will lead to other carriers on the continent following suit. As part of the airline’s official statement, Careen urges governments in Africa to “accelerate the acceptance of digital health credentials for travel across the continent.”

If you’re someone who has already had an opportunity to use the IATA Travel Pass, or any digital health passport, we’d love to hear about it. Share your experience by leaving a comment.