SINGAPORE: Passengers on Singapore Airlines (SIA) will be able to use a mobile app to verify their COVID-19 test results and vaccination status, as the national carrier becomes the first airline to test the International Air Transport Associations (IATA) Travel Pass.
The trial will begin with passengers travelling from Singapore to London between Mar 15 and Mar 28, the airline said in a media release on Monday (Mar 8).
IATA, a global body representing about 290 airlines, had earlier said it would formally launch its travel pass by the end of this month.
It will be available to those using Apple iOS devices. They will be invited to download the app and create a digital ID with a photo and passport information, with the option of also including their flight information.
They can then book a pre-departure COVID-19 test at any of seven participating clinics in Singapore via an online portal, and register at the clinic using the digital ID and flight information in the app.
“They will be able to view their test results, as well as confirmation status to fly, directly on the app,” said SIA, noting that IATA’s Timatic registry - already used by airlines to verify passenger travel document requirements - would provide back-end information on COVID-19 testing and entry requirements.
“Participants will need to show their confirmed status in the app to the check-in staff in Changi Airport before flight departure,” the airline added.
“In line with current regulatory requirements, they will also need to bring a physical copy of their health certificate that is issued by the clinic where they took their Covid-19 test.”
Participants can expect a “faster and more seamless check-in process” with the consolidation of health status verification into a single app, said SIA.
They will also have “full control” over how their personal information is shared, as the data is stored locally in the mobile phone and not in any central database, the carrier added.
“This is critical given the highly sensitive nature of health data,” it said.
“If successful, the pilot will pave the way for the integration of the entire digital health verification process into the SingaporeAir mobile app from around mid-2021, again using IATA’s Travel Pass framework,” SIA said.
“SIA will continue to work closely with its partners in Singapore and around the world in the facilitation of these trials, and towards the eventual restoration of a seamless travel experience for its customers.”
FIRST PHASE TESTED LAST YEAR
This comes after SIA tested the first phase of its digital health verification process - also based on IATA’s Travel Pass framework - in December last year, which saw passengers who took their COVID-19 tests at selected clinics in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur given either digital or paper health certificates.
“Airport check-in staff and Singapore’s immigration authority verified the authenticity of these certificates via a secure mobile app, and ensured that the customers met Singapore’s entry requirements,” SIA said.
More than 200 successful health certificates were verified by its check-in staff, with no fraudulent certificates detected, it added.
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Other airlines - including Air New Zealand, Qatar Airways and Malaysia Airlines - have also said they would conduct trials of the IATA Travel Pass.
This first phase helped support SIA’s drive towards a “secure and convenient industry standard” for the verification of COVID-19 test results and the health status of passengers, said SIA acting senior vice president for marketing and planning JoAnn Tan.
“That gives us the confidence that in the second phase, we can further streamline the verification process for eventual integration into SIA’s mobile application,” she said.
“In the longer term, the digital identity elements of the IATA Travel Pass will place Singapore Airlines passengers at the front of the queue for an even more convenient contactless travel experience,” said IATA senior vice president for airport, passenger, cargo, and security Nick Careen.
Last week Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said Singapore was in bilateral and international discussions regarding a system of certification for COVID-19 vaccinations, which he described as a “new critical development” for the revival of air travel.
In January, SIA partnered with travel experiences firm Collinson to trial a “one-stop online solution” for COVID-19 pre-departure testing for passengers.
The pre-departure test service is currently available to Singapore Airlines and SilkAir passengers departing from Singapore, Jakarta and Medan, SIA said, adding it plans to expand the service to more cities if successful.