In this trial run, Air New Zealand airlines will require passengers to utilise the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Travel Pass application to prove that they have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus before they are allowed to board the plane and continue with their journey. This will aid in the facilitation of clearance for travellers at border health checkpoints in both New Zealand and Australia.

How it works
The Travel Pass smartphone app will provide passengers with updated information about the tests and vaccines which they need to receive before being granted entry to their destination. This streamlines the health verification process by informing customers of the steps needed to take their next international trip safely. When an individual is inoculated, the medical centre securely sends the information to the smartphone application which can then be cross-checked against the vaccination requirements for the country which the individual is trying to enter. Subsequently, based on the passenger’s travel itinerary, the application sends an “Ok to travel” notification to inform both the airlines and immigration authorities that they meet the country’s COVID-19 health requirements. This health information is kept confidential and secure as the customer would have to grant permission prior to the sharing of this information with the airlines company or border control.

The larger trend
Similar health passport systems have already been developed in several other countries around the globe. For instance, Immunitee, a health passport system has also received approval in Singapore and will allow Malaysian tourists entry into Singapore once they have been verified and cleared via the digital platform.
With this, it is likely that other nations around the world would also gradually introduce plans to develop similar digital vaccine passport systems to ensure that they maintain a tight rein on the health checks at their borders whilst being able to welcome travellers into their country. Such systems would likely proliferate globally as governments would also be eager to welcome visitors into their respective countries in order to revitalise their damaged tourism industry.

On the record
Australia’s Department of Health released a statement announcing that “The Australian government is supportive of ways to ensure the safety of the Australian community through the efficient collection and verification of traveller data whilst adhering to strict privacy provisions.”

“Reassuring customers that travel is, in fact, safe is one of our priorities. By using the app, customers can have confidence that everyone onboard meets the same government health requirements they do” Air New Zealand’s chief digital officer, Jennifer Sepull explained.

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