A leading travel industry association is developing a digital passport for international plane passengers who have been vaccinated for COVID-19.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Saturday that it is in the final phase of developing the infrastructure for the passport, which could become an essential component in rebuilding the shattered tourism industry.
‘Testing is the first key to enable international travel without quarantine measures. The second key is the global information infrastructure needed to securely manage, share and verify test data matched with traveler identities in compliance with border control requirements,’ Alexandre de Juniac, IATA CEO, said in a statement obtained by The Hill.
Travelers who receive the COVID-19 shot will likely have confirmation of their vaccination digitally linked to their official passports.
The IATA says a ‘vaccination passport’ will bring peace of mind to potential tourists, and could quickly reboot mass travel across the globe.
Currently, no countries have declared that international arrivals will have to be vaccinated before they arrive at their borders.
However, it is theorized that some countries – including Australia and New Zealand – will be hesitant to let in visitors who have not had the shot, given that the virus has largely been controlled in those nations.
It is also currently unclear whether any airlines will mandate that passengers have the vaccine before they board their aircraft.
But if countries and airlines do decide to mandate the vaccine, then the ‘vaccination passport’ could become an essential component of travel.
Airlines for America, a trade association which represents major carriers, has stopped short of saying they will mandate the shot.
They currently state that US airlines are ‘committed to restoring service in a manner that prioritizes the safety and wellbeing of our passengers and employees.’
However, Australian airline Qantas may mandate that all passengers take the vaccine.
CEO Alan Joyce said earlier this week that the carrier would implement the measure once the vaccine was made available to the public.
He predicted the rule would become standard practice around the world.
Sewage testing on planes, monitoring ankle bracelets and DNA testing are also being considered to keep passengers safe.
Joyce said: ‘We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say for international travelers that we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft.
It comes as the United States gears up for the distribution of vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer, both of which have efficacy rates above 94 percent.
On Friday, United Airlines began operating charter flights to move shipments of Pfizer’s vaccination ahead of a mass inoculation program expected to begin in late December, according to a report.
The flights are the first step in a global supply and distribution network, which is being prepared to spring into action when the vaccine is approved by regulators.
The airline has been granted special permission by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to fly with increased quantities of dry ice, to keep the vaccine cold.
Pfizer’s vaccination must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius.
The specific chartered routes being flown were not specified by the Wall Street Journal, which reported the news, and it is not known if they were domestic US or international flights.
But it was revealed that United intends on flying cargo flights between the Belgian capital, Brussels, and Chicago’s O’Hare airport to support distribution of the vaccine, according to a November 24 letter from the FAA viewed by the Journal.