Qantas shared this week that it is looking into the use of digital health pass apps to help resume safe international travel. The CommonPass and IATA Travel Pass smartphone apps are being trialed on the airline’s international repatriation flights.
Qantas shut down down its international operations last spring. Since then, it has operated only repatriation flights in this segment, including services to London. Qantas’ leadership previously shared that it didn’t expect the airline to resume any significant long-haul international flying before a vaccine comes to market.
There were predictions that these operations could restart in July 2021. However, it was announced yesterday that Qantas and Jetstar are now planning to restart regular international passenger services to most destinations from October 31st.
The Australian government has implemented stringent long-term restrictions on travel. So, ahead of the flight restart, the carrier has to have the right tools in place to ensure operations run safely and smoothly.
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The two digital apps on trial will digitalize medical records, which will help airlines see if people have received negative coronavirus results and have been vaccinated. Overall, they will help staff view a passenger’s COVID-19 health status.
The airline follows in the steps of Air New Zealand, which started to use the IATA app on its Auckland to Sydney route. Here, passengers create a digital health wallet linked to their e-passport. After they have been tested and/or vaccinated, labs will securely send data directly to the app. The system then checks the requirements for travel against the data. Those who meet the standards will then be given a green tick of approval to travel.
7NEWS reports that the passes are completely optional for passengers while still in their trial stage. The Australian news outfit adds that Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the following about his company getting ready for international travel:
“So, we’re getting ourselves ready and hundreds of airlines are getting themselves ready on these passes and these technologies, so that when the borders open up and we have the ability to know who’s been vaccinated, who’s been tested and whatever requirements the governments put into place, then we can implement from that date.”
Preparing for the return
When general long-haul services resume for Qantas, it will be over a year and a half since they were grounded. Therefore, the airline will be putting the right measures in place to ensure that the restart goes seamlessly and safely.
Simple Flying reached out to Qantas for comment on the digital health pass. A spokesperson for the airline said that this will essentially be a digital solution to show proof of COVID tests and vaccinations (when they have been rolled out), similar to the the old paper versions that people had with their passports to show that they had vaccinations for yellow fever and such.
What are your thoughts about Qantas trailing digital apps to check customer vaccination records? Do you think that this is a good move by the carrier? Let us know what you think of the initiative in the comment section.