The Qantas Group has confirmed it will work with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to roll out a digital health pass when regular Qantas and Jetstar international flights resume.
The decision to proceed with IATA follows trials of several digital solutions on Qantas’ international repatriation flights in recent months.
The IATA Travel Pass offers a convenient and secure method for customers to verify COVID test results and vaccination information with border or health officials and airline staff.
The app connects customers to certified testing labs so that results can be uploaded to the platform, and customers can show they have a vaccine certificate and/or proof of a negative COVID test result before their flight.
Importantly, the IATA Travel Pass matches a customer’s health information against a specific flight, checks the entry requirements for the country they are travelling to and provides clearance to travel on that flight, to both the customer and airline.
Final development work is now underway to ensure the app is ready for use on Qantas and Jetstar international flights when they resume.
The announcement follows the federal government’s release of its four-phase national COVID-19 response plan earlier this month, which includes validating the vaccination status of Aussies returning from overseas.
Many countries where Qantas and Jetstar fly to, including the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, have announced requirements of either a proof of vaccine or negative COVID test result to enter without quarantine.
The Qantas Group’s chief customer officer, Stephanie Tully, said: “We want to get our international flights back in the air and our people back to work, and a digital health pass will be a key part of that.
“Many governments are already requiring proof of vaccine or a negative COVID test result for international travel. Even if it wasn’t a government requirement, Qantas has always been a leader in safety, and we have a responsibility to our customers and crew.
“A digital health pass will connect customers with COVID testing facilities, health authorities and airlines, and ultimately enable the opening of more travel bubbles and borders.
“The IATA Travel Pass will allow travellers to have their COVID test results and vaccine information verified securely, which will be their green light to fly internationally with us.
“We’re working closely with IATA to develop their travel pass to make the process as seamless as possible for Qantas and Jetstar customers as international borders start to re-open.”
IATA’s senior vice president of operations, safety and security, Nick Careen, said: “A digital solution to manage and verify health credentials is essential for travel while COVID-19 remains a risk.
“We are delighted that the Qantas Group has decided to progress plans to use IATA Travel Pass as a convenient and secure method for travellers to verify and share their COVID test results and vaccination information with border or health officials and airline staff.
“IATA Travel Pass delivers an advantage over other solutions in that the app enables travellers to create a digital ID derived from a government-issued document such as a passport.
“This means that airlines and governments can have full confidence in the test/vaccine results both from a content and identity perspective.
“Being able to validate the vaccination status of Australians returning from overseas is critical to enable Australia’s four-phase national COVID response plan announced earlier this month.”
The move by the Qantas Group comes shortly after it issued the following statement on COVID-19 vaccinations in the aviation industry:
Aviation revolves around safety. If there is something we, as an industry, can reasonably do to lower risk, we do it.
Ever since a COVID-19 vaccine was approved, the Qantas Group has strongly encouraged our people to get vaccinated and are offering paid time off to get the jab. We’ve also lobbied government for priority access to the vaccine for aviation workers.
We’ve done this not just because vaccinations are the only way to end the cycle of lockdowns and border closures, but because they are proven to be one of the strongest layers of protection against the potentially serious heath impact of this virus.
While all the data shows that the risk of COVID transmission onboard aircraft remains very low, and there are many safeguards at airports, nothing reduces the risk to health like the vaccines approved for use in Australia. That’s critical for our frontline teams, who come into contact with thousands of people each day.
The Qantas Group is responsible for an essential service, meaning that we need to guard against severe disruptions. We’ve seen that just one COVID positive employee can inadvertently shut down a freight facility or passenger terminal, which can have a big impact on the broader community and economy.
These are some of the key reasons why we believe a COVID vaccine should be a requirement for all aviation workers in Australia.
Another reason is that it’s already happening in several jurisdictions, here and overseas. The NSW, South Australia and New Zealand governments have made vaccines mandatory for aviation workers supporting international services. Other states are looking at taking similar steps, including for domestic.
We welcome this, but without a national approach, we’ll wind up with a patchwork of rules between the borders that our people cross multiple times a day. This is something National Cabinet is considering, along with possible vaccine mandates in other sectors.
To put it simply, the Qantas Group supports vaccination because we’re focused on creating the safest environment we can.
We understand there are a lot of complicating factors for our people, including access to the vaccine and those who don’t want the vaccine or still have unanswered questions about it. But, we need to find a path through those challenges if aviation is to return to normal.