The UAE’s flag carrier, Emirates airline and the Dubai Health Authorities (DHA) has made an agreement to position Dubai as one of the first cities in the world to implement digital verification of travelers’ COVID-19 testing and vaccination records.
As part of the deal, the two entities will link the IT systems of DHA-approved laboratories with Emirates’ reservations and check-in systems and this will enable to share, store and verify data related to passengers’ COVID-19 infection, testing and vaccination in a secure and legally compliant way.
“Dubai is a leading global air transport hub, as well as one of the world’s most progressive cities in the area of e-government services. It’s a natural step to combine our capabilities to implement digital verification of COVID-19 medical records, which will also enable contactless document verification at Dubai Airport.”
Both the entities expect the current initiative to remarkably improve the traveler experience, as well as the reliability, efficiency and compliance with entry requirements imposed by destinations around the world. The project will commence immediately, with the aim of going live in the coming months, as per the airlines.
Earlier this week, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged governments to join with the industry to prepare for a safe restart of travel once borders are reopened. Further, it called on governments to issue digital COVID-19 testing and vaccination certificates so that travelers have a verifiable document on their mobile phones.
The major trade body of the airline industry has also asked border agencies to accept the digital COVID-19 medical records on the travelers’ mobile phones and not only on paper. Digital health credentials systems must be secure, align with existing systems and global standards as well as ensure data privacy, Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director-general, stated.
“We need global standards to record vaccinations and test results. Speed is critical. Fraudulent COVID-19 test results are already proving to be an issue. And as vaccine programs ramp up governments are using paper processes and different digital standards to record who has been vaccinated. These are not the conditions needed to support a successful restart at scale when governments open borders,” Mr. Juniac added.
Currently, IATA is progressing with its own Travel Pass, a COVID-19 digital health passport that it hopes will ease cross-border travel as vaccines reach more people. The Travel Pass is expected to launch in March and a second release in April with more features. Emirates and Etihad Airways have already begun trials of the Travel Pass.