Rwandair Will Be The First African Airline To Use IATA’s Health Passport

Rwandair is set to become the first African airline to use IATA’s Travel Pass health passport. In April, the airline is set to launch the app for a three-week trial on one short-haul route. It comes after other airlines continue to seek health passport solutions.

Rwandair, Africa, Health Passport
Rwandair is set to become the first African airline to use IATA’s Travel Pass health passport. Photo: Rwandair

Around the world, health passports are being seen as a way to potentially overcome harsh travel restrictions brought in to stem the international spread of the COVID-19 virus. While not a totally new concept, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the travel industry to invest time and money into developing a digital solution for travel.

Trialing IATA Travel Pass

Rwandair, the flag carrier of Rwanda, is set to become the first airline in Africa to begin trialing the IATA Travel Pass. According to the airline, it is initially trialing the use of the app for a period of three weeks. However, only passengers on one route will be eligible.

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The app will be for passengers traveling between Kigali in Rwanda and Nairobi in Kenya. While still in development, the app will work in a similar way to the VeriFLY app already being used by some oneworld member airlines.

Rwandair, Africa, Health Passport
The airline will initially trial the program on flights between Kigali and Nairobi. Photo: Rwandair

That is to say that it will check passengers’ COVID-19 test certificates or vaccine records to ensure that they meet the relevant criteria to travel on their desired flight. However, while the aforementioned VeriFLY app is a standalone download from the app store, the IATA platform is being designed to be incorporated into airlines’ own apps.

Commenting on the news, IATA’s outgoing Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said,

“RwandAir is showing its industry leadership in Africa by becoming the first airline on the continent to trial IATA Travel Pass… IATA Travel Pass will give governments the confidence to re-open their borders knowing that arriving passengers are in full compliance with any testing or vaccination requirements.”

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A range of solutions

IATA is hoping that its Travel Pass will become the industry standard of health passports, allowing governments to reopen borders to travel. However, the app is still unreleased, with the first trials expected to begin in the coming weeks.

British Airways VeriFLY
In the past few months, several solutions to digital health passports have been launched. Photo: British Airways

This has prompted some developers and airlines to forge their own way. While working with IATA on Travel Pass, British Airways is already using the VeriFLY app to confirm COVID-19 related travel documents prior to travel. Meanwhile, yesterday Lufthansa revealed that it is starting development on its own health passport platform, adding an entirely new player to the mix. This is set to be launched on a limited basis in March.

What do you make of Rwandair’s decision to choose IATA’s Travel Pass health passport? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!