International airline travel between Australia and New Zealand may soon be on the cards as the kiwi airline trials an app to verify passengers' COVID-19 health information.
Air New Zealand will trial the Travel Pass app on flights between Auckland and Sydney beginning in April.
The app, designed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), will link registered health data to help airlines comply with governmental requirements around COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.
Air New Zealand Chief Digital Officer Jennifer Sepull hopes the app will allow for a return to international travel without the need for costly quarantines.
“Once borders reopen, travel is going to look very different, with customers' health data needing to be verified at check-in,” she said.
“It's essentially like having a digital health certificate that can be easily and securely shared with airlines.
“This will give customers peace of mind that they meet all travel requirements for the different countries around the world before they even get to the airport.”
Currently, Australian travellers to New Zealand must quarantine for two weeks in a "managed isolation facility".
Both Air New Zealand and IATA have promised information on the Travel Pass app will be securely managed and will not be stored on a central database.
The pilot program will run for three weeks once the Travel Pass app is made public in April.
IATA Senior VP of Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security, Nick Careen, said the Air New Zealand trial was a big step in getting international travel back.
“Air New Zealand's trial of IATA Travel Pass will help give governments the confidence to re-open borders and passengers the confidence to travel,” he said.
“The app has been developed with the highest levels of data privacy and security, so passengers always remain in control of their COVID-19 health information.
“And governments can be confident that passengers who are "Ok to Travel" are in full compliance of COVID-19 travel requirements."
Australia’s vaccine rollout has begun with high risk people, frontline workers, and politicians receiving the first set of jabs this week.
Mass vaccinations combined with digital passes to verify health data could provide a way out of the stop-start lockdowns that have been a regular feature of different Australian states’ response to COVID-19 outbreaks.
Israel has implemented a digital ‘green pass’ that people who have received the full set of vaccine doses can present upon entry to certain restricted locations such as gyms, hotels, and theatres.