Emirates airline first to trial 'vaccine passports'

The IATA Travel Pass app will allow passengers to show they've had a vaccine or a negative result from a COVID-19 test

An Emirates airline check-in gate

Passengers travelling with the Emirates airline will be the first to experience the so-called 'vaccine passport' once the company rolls out a trial for the technology in April.

The Dubai-based airline has partnered with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to test out the IATA Travel Pass mobile app for the first time.

Passengers with the app will be able to verify whether they've had either a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative result from a pre-travel test, serving as proof that they have met any government requirements for the country they intend to travel to.

Emirates is the first airline to announce the deployment of any sort of 'immunity passport' across an airport. The mobile application could be a big step towards renewed international travel, allowing businesses to get back to pre-pandemic life and airline firms back into profit.

Emirates will start phase one of the trial in April in Dubai before a full international rollout. Passengers travelling from the Middle East will be able to share coronavirus tests results directly with the airline before even reaching the airport and have their details auto-populated on the check-in system.

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Last week, a coalition of tech and health firms announced an initiative to develop a digital vaccine verification system. The Vaccination Credential Initiative was also proposed as a mobile-based tool, but no airlines appeared to be involved in the project.

"This is the first step in making international travel during the pandemic as convenient as possible giving people the confidence that they are meeting all COVID-19 entry requirements by governments," said Nick Careen, an IATA senior VP.

"As borders re-open, IATA Travel Pass will be further enhanced with more capabilities to meet all governments testing or vaccination verification requirements and Emirates customers will be among the first to have these services."

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