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IATA to roll out Covid ‘travel pass’ in Mideast soon

LONDON (AFP): The International Air Transport Association announced Thursday its digital travel pass will “go live” in the Middle East in the coming weeks, as Europe and the US relax travel restrictions.

Countries around the world are racing to adopt digital certificates in order to unlock an expected revival in international tourism after the coronavirus pandemic crippled the aviation industry for more than a year.

No one vaccine certification system has yet been universally accepted or recognised, though IATA’s travel pass has gained popularity among the Gulf’s giant carriers.

“We have received very positive feedback on the IATA travel pass,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, in a briefing on Thursday.

“It will go live in the next couple of weeks with a number of carriers in the Middle East region,” he added, without specifying which airlines.

Gulf heavyweights Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways were among the first companies to start testing the app in January, followed by several other global carriers, including Singapore Airlines.

IATA’s pass is a mobile app that would enable passengers to create a “digital passport” to provide proof of their testing and vaccination history that can be shared with airlines and immigration officials.

Last month, EU leaders welcomed the introduction of a bloc-wide Covid-19 pass that they hope will unlock a summer surge in tourism.

The 27 member states want the EU Digital Covid Certificate, to be launched on July 1, to turn the page on coronavirus restrictions that have crimped Europeans’ cherished freedom of movement.

The move came as several member states with large tourism industries, including France, Greece and Spain, eased their coronavirus restrictions.

On Tuesday, the United States eased its warnings against travel to dozens of countries, including Japan.