Budget European airline Ryanair has launched its own low-cost digital vaccination passport as the industry scrambles to fill the void left by governments who have failed to prepare for post-vaccination international travel. More an app-based travel wallet than a sophisticated digital passport, Ryanair says it felt compelled to launch the tool so that passengers can keep all their Covid certificates safe in one place.
The main contender for a worldwide recognised digital vaccination passport is currently being developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). But its Travel Pass app is still a work in progress and the first live trials are yet to get underway.
Singapore Airlines will exclusively test the app between 15 and 28 March but even then the app will only be used for digital health verification on one route between Singapore and London Heathrow.
A slew of other airlines have, however, signed up to start testing out the Travel Pass system including the likes of Emirates, Qatar Airways, Qantas and Air New Zealand. On Wednesday, Air Serbia and Japan’s ANA Airways became the latest airlines to say they would also trial the app.
The parent company of British Airways also says it is working with IATA on developing Travel Pass but in the meantime, the airline is using the rival VeriFLY app to help passengers navigate through the myriad of travel restrictions and rules, verify tests and digitally store results.
IATA says that nearly 90 per cent of travellers believe governments need to standardise vaccine and test certificates but countries that were quick to introduce travel restrictions have been less eager to develop common standards for test and vaccine verification.
While Ryanair doesn’t believe that European Union countries will have agreed on a digital vaccination passport in time for the summer, the airline’s marketing director Dara Brady believes some countries will want passengers to show proof of either vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test.
The Ryanair travel wallet is a simple way for passengers to upload copies of any Covid-related certificates and locator forms that might be required by certain countries for entry.
Despite the slow rollout of Covid vaccines across Europe, Brady voiced optimism that European countries would have relaxing border restrictions in late May and early June as the continent’s most elderly and vulnerable citizens were vaccinated.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.