Aviation

Qantas trials digital health pass with passengers, launches new Newcastle-Melbourne route

Qantas has completed its first customer trial of the CommonPass digital health app on its international repatriation flight from Frankfurt to Darwin.

This follows a successful trial with crew last month and comes as the national carrier prepares to support the resumption of COVID-safe international travel from late October.

The CommonPass smartphone app offers a convenient and secure method for verifying COVID test results and vaccination information to 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 proof of a negative COVID test result before their flight, which is a requirement on all repatriation flights Qantas is operating on behalf of the federal government.

Qantas Group’s chief customer officer, Stephanie Tully, said a digital health pass would assist airlines and governments globally to facilitate safe international travel when borders reopen.

“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,” she said.

“COVID test results and proof of vaccine will be required in many countries for quarantine-free travel, just as it has been for polio and yellow fever vaccinations in the past.

“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.

“During the trial, customers travelling on our international repatriation flights are being invited to download the CommonPass app on their device.

“Longer term, we’d like to integrate the technology with our existing Qantas app so that our customers can manage all parts of their journey in the one place.

“Ultimately, we’re focused on ensuring that the process will be as seamless as possible for our customers to share this information so they can travel internationally again.”

Paul Meyer, CEO of The Commons Project Foundation, said the CommonPass app enables travellers to access their test results and vaccination records from their healthcare provider.

“As we initiate the upcoming trials with Qantas, we aim to provide Australians with a secure, private and trusted experience as they return to their home country,” he said.

“We look forward to supporting the efforts of Qantas, the Australian government and the nation’s healthcare system to safely reopen the country to international travel.”

CommonPass is one of two digital solutions that Qantas is assessing, alongside the IATA Travel Pass.

Qantas recently announced it was planning to restart regular international passenger flights to most of its pre-COVID destinations from 31 October 2021.

The federal government announced last month that vaccination certificates will be issued and made available through the Medicare and MyGov apps.

Qantas said it is working on solutions for customers to elect to have this medical information integrated with their clearance to travel in a secure way and in accordance with global privacy regulations.

Flying kangaroo launches new domestic route

The NSW Hunter region will benefit from more direct flights to Melbourne, with Qantas today launching a new route from Newcastle to the Victorian capital.

The first Qantas flight connecting the two cities in more than 10 years departed Newcastle for Melbourne this morning, marked by celebrations for customers at the gate.

The national carrier will operate 12 weekly return flights with its 125-seat Boeing 717 aircraft, adding more than 3,000 seats between the two cities each week.

Image source: Qantas

QantasLink CEO John Gissing said the new flights were good news for local businesses in Newcastle and the Hunter region.

“We know Australians want to travel, so we’ve been looking for opportunities to support new routes where there is demand and help deliver a boost for local businesses,” he said.

“These new services will bring more Victorians to Newcastle as well as the Port Stephens region and the world-class Hunter Valley wineries.”

Gissing said Qantas expects the new service will also be popular with corporate travellers based in Newcastle.

“Flights are available at peak times in both directions and customers will enjoy the benefits of our premium service, including complimentary food and drinks, baggage and lounge access before they fly out,” he said.

The new route adds to Qantas’ flights between Newcastle and Brisbane, with services progressively increasing over the coming weeks to a total of 24 return flights per week by the end of March.


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