Vietnamese airlines are following the footsteps of many international carriers in using a digital vaccine passport to facilitate the recovery of an industry severely affected by COVID-19.
In March, flag carrier Vietnam Airlines announced its plan to trial the health passport created by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The airline signed an agreement with the IATA to use the app starting this month, with select passengers invited to download the IATA Travel Pass app, where their COVID tests and vaccination certificates will be stored.
Vietnam Airlines President and CEO Le Hong Ha said its partnership with IATA is a “big step forward for passengers and for the industry.” He also called for governments around the world to acknowledge and accept the travel pass so the industry can resume full operations.
After Vietnam Airlines, low-cost airline Vietjet has just confirmed that it will soon begin to trial the IATA Travel Pass for its passengers. The two organizations have been working closely with relevant government authorities to ensure the app can support safe international travel.
Vietjet Managing Director Dinh Viet Phuong, said, “Vietjet strongly believes that with IATA Travel Pass, our passengers will get the best experience on their upcoming travels.”
Launched in 2007 as the first privately owned new-age airline in Vietnam, Vietjet has quite successfully navigated the challenges brought by the pandemic, with the company posting an after-tax profit equivalent to $3 million in 2020.
Vietjet has yet to disclose when exactly the trial will commence, nor the international routes it plans to test. The airline flies to 23 international destinations including Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Macau and Tokyo.
Restoring hope for travel
With countries starting to ease mobility restrictions and widen vaccination campaigns, people are now seeing new hope for travel — from immigrants missing their homelands to workers whose overseas jobs have been put on hold and globe trotters so eager to check off their bucket lists.
From June 9, France has allowed vaccinated travelers from low-risk countries, including those from Vietnam, to enter its borders. Spain is also now welcoming back tourists, at least those that have completed their two-dose vaccination, without any restrictions.
Vietnam, meanwhile, remains shut off from inbound leisure travelers. The national government is still mapping out plans for possible implementation of vaccine passports to hasten economic and tourism recovery. But with the new outbreak affecting the country’s major cities and the shortage of vaccine supply, it may take a longer time before the travel pass gets the official green light.
IATA and all airlines that are trialing the travel pass believe that digital health credential would be essential when borders reopen and travel restrictions get progressively lifted.
The main purpose of the travel pass, according to IATA, is to help governments get accurate health information on passengers, thus, the possibility of waiving mandatory weeks-long quarantine.
Before making a flight, passengers download the IATA Travel Pass application, fill in the information, and take a COVID-19 test at designated facilities. They will receive an “OK to Travel” if their travel health credentials meet the destination’s requirements.
The IATA Travel Pass will help passengers manage their travel health credentials according to the prevailing government requirements for COVID19 tests or vaccination.
The app consists of four modules — a global registry of health requirements, an international registry of testing centers, a lab app to securely share test and vaccination certificates with passengers, and a contactless travel app that enables passengers to create a digital passport and manage their travel documentation digitally.
By consolidating the verification of health credentials into a single platform, users can expect a faster and more seamless check-in process. Participants will 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 freedom to travel is important. Connecting the world by air will provide vital stability for tens of millions of people whose jobs have been lost or remain at risk from the pandemic. It will bring relief to social and mental toll caused by loss of income, lockdowns and family separations. And it will enable human connections that we all value,” writes IATA on its official website.
“If we work together — the air transport sector, governments and health experts — we can get the world flying again.”