Virgin Atlantic to trial IATA Travel Pass in a bid to aid sector recovery

By Amirtha P S, Trainee Reporter
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The leading British airline Virgin Atlantic had started digital health pass trials with the aim to prove to governments across the globe that apps displaying COVID-19 test results and vaccine certificates can pave the path for travel recovery.

Virgin Atlantic has stated that it would trial the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Travel Pass on its London to Barbados route. Barbados has declared that it will accept the pass at its border and become one of the first countries to accept a digital pass instead of paper checks.

Even though the renewed lockdowns in Britain and slow vaccine rollouts have raised the signs of another fragile summer that could further thrash airline balance sheets, the strict ban the country has imposed on all except essential travel is due to lift on May 17. 

The global airline is currently hoping that the UK and other countries will soon approve the use of digital passes on apps, allowing travel to resume at scale. Without them, airport checks on multiple paper forms will cause huge queues and could reduce traveler numbers.

“Right now these border checks are fully paper-based, very lengthy. With a digital solution, the borders can flow better,” Virgin’s chief customer and operating officer Corneel Koster said. 

IATA’s app is connected to several COVID-19 test providers so a passenger’s pre-departure test results appear directly on the app and it will help the travelers to easily securely manage their travel, following the government requirements.

Virgin Atlantic has asked the UK government if they would trial the use of the IATA app at the border for return flights from Barbados into London Heathrow. Meanwhile, the airline group has raised an extra $220 million in new financing earlier this month.

“Technology is moving fast and global standards are developing fast on this front, therefore trialing a leading solution like this would be the way to go,” said Mr. Koster.

Related: Etihad becomes one of first airlines to launch IATA Travel Pass

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