Singapore Airlines announced that it had begun trials of the world’s first “health verification process”, which the company described as the “new normal” for travel.
Singapore’s flagship has become the first major airline to introduce a digital certificate developed by International Air Transport Association (IATA) and used to confirm a traveler’s COVID-19 test results and vaccination status.
The app, known as Travel Pass, is used on flights operated by Singapore Airlines from Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. The airline said it could expand the program to other cities if the attempts were successful. It also plans to integrate the certificate into its SingaporeAir mobile app in the coming months.
Passengers driving the selected routes must take their Covid-19 tests at designated clinics in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, where they can be issued either a digital or paper health certificate with a QR code, the airline explained in a press release. The documents are checked by both the airport check-in staff and the Singapore Immigration Authority.
The airline said COVID-19 testing and vaccinations would be an “integral part” of air travel going forward and that the certificates were an ideal way to “validate a passenger’s health information.” The company hailed the new ID as a way to use digital technologies to create a “more seamless experience” for customers amidst “the new normal.”
Margaret Tan, an aviation security officer from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), welcomed the rollout and expressed hope that “other countries and airlines” would adopt a similar scheme to ensure passengers “necessary health information to protect public health.”
IATA announced last month that it was working on the Travel Pass in an attempt to reopen international travel. Several airlines have already seen the technology, including Qantas Airways, which said it plans to prove Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for all international passengers traveling to and from Australia. The company’s CEO, Alan Joyce, also speculated that digital health passes would become a worldwide requirement.
However, there have been warnings within the industry that proof of vaccination mandatory can be catastrophic for the already suffering travel sector. Gloria Guevara, chair of the World Travel and Tourism Council, recently argued that only a negative test result should be required to fly, as vaccines are not yet widely available and high-risk groups receiving jab are less likely to travel.