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Airline trade body launches trial COVID vaccine passport app

Virgin Atlantic was involved in earlier trials of the new IATA app (source: Virgin Atlantic)

A new Travel Pass iPhone app from the IATA aims to become how airlines can check passengers have had coronavirus vaccinations.

The previously reported vaccine passport app from the International Air Transport Association is now available as a trial on selected airlines. Originally due in March 2021, then April, the newly named IATA Travel Pass app has launched on Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store.

"IATA Travel Pass is a mobile app that helps travelers to store and manage their verified certifications for COVID-19 tests or vaccines," says the IATA on its website. "It is more secure and efficient than current paper processes used to manage health requirements... This is important given the potentially enormous scale of testing or vaccine verifications that will need to be securely managed."

Anyone can download the app, but it can only be used by passengers who have been invited to do so.

The IATA's announcement does not include details of any airlines involved. However, the UK's Virgin Atlantic has been involved in earlier trial versions.

For those travelers whose airline sends them a login code, the app is intended to store records of their COVID tests. It also aims to provide details of test requirements, plus where such testing can be done.

Airlines are able to verify that a passenger has been vaccinated. And will also be able to issue updated information about test requirements, direct to each app user.

The IATA says it aims to help governments "re-open borders without quarantine," and also "restart aviation."

"Informing passengers on what tests, vaccines and other measures they require prior to travel, details on where they can get tested and giving them the ability to share their tests and vaccination results in a verifiable, safe and privacy-protecting manner is the key to giving governments the confidence to open borders," it says.

IATA is a trade body representing the world's airlines. Separately, governments and health organizations have been pressing for the introduction of vaccine passports, though it is also a controversial move.

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