IATA Travel Pass Design unveiled

Published December 17, 2020, 10:35 AM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) last night (December 16) unveiled key design elements of the IATA Travel Pass, a mobile app to help passengers manage trips in line with any government requirements for COVID-19 testing or vaccine information.

The IATA Travel Pass is scheduled for release early in the first quarter, 2021 for Android and for iPhone.

“Testing is the immediate solution to safely re-open borders and re-connect people,” stressed Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac. “Eventually this will transition to vaccination requirements.”

“In either case, a secure system to manage COVID-19 testing or vaccination information is critical,” he noted.

“The IATA Travel Pass is a solution that both travelers and governments can trust. And it is being built with data security, convenience and verification as top priorities.”

IATA emphasized these priorities with three critical design elements.

First, it puts travelers in control of their personal information for top level data security and data privacy.

The IATA Travel Pass stores encrypted data including verified test or vaccination results on the mobile device of the traveler.

The traveler controls what information is shared from their phone with airlines and authorities. No central database or data repository is storing the information.

By keeping travelers 100% in control of their information, the highest standards for data privacy are ensured.

IATA Travel Pass is also built on the highest standards of data protection laws, including General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR).

Technically, the app is being built in accordance with Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) principles.

Governments will recognize global standards to ensure verified identity and test/vaccine information.

A government-issued ePassport will be used to verify the identity of the user.

It also serves to create a digital representation of the user’s passport to allow the information to be sent electronically in a secured way that is linked to their verified identity.

The key to this are global standards developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which match biometric passport data and a selfie taken by the user.

This creates a Type 1 digital travel credential (a verified digital identity) in line with ICAO standards.

Currently, the main vaccination requirement for entry into some countries is for yellow fever.

Under the International Health Regulations, this is managed by the “yellow card” or International Certificate of Vaccination and Prophylaxis.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is developing digital standards that will make these more secure and dramatically reduce fraud.

When ready, the IATA Travel Pass will be able to accommodate such new global standards.

Until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available to the general public, the priority is on COVID-19 testing.

Laboratories have well-established safety standards for managing and verifying test results to individuals.

IATA is partnering with selected and established laboratories to securely link their test results with the verified identity of the IATA Travel Pass holder.

Convenience and biosafety will be enhanced with integration into contactless travel processes.

The ICAO CART recommendations for biosafety include the use of contactless travel processes to reduce the risk of virus transmission when documents need to be exchanged in the travel process.

The industry has been developing contactless travel processes as part of a One ID transformation program for several years.

The IATA Travel Pass digital identity management module uses the well-developed principles of One ID (which are, in turn, based on ICAO standards).

For the passenger this means that the IATA Travel Pass will also unlock the potential for convenient contactless travel processes from check-in to boarding.

While the need for COVID-19 information verification may eventually disappear once the pandemic is overcome, the IATA Travel Pass will remain as a bold step forward in the implementation of contactless travel.

So far, IATA’s research amid the COVID-19 crisis (September 2020) showed that contactless processes are popular with travelers.

Some 70% of passengers had concerns about handing over their passport, phone or boarding pass to airline agents, security staff or government officials at the airport

Majority, 85% of travelers said that touchless processing throughout the airport would make them feel safer.

Already 44% of travelers said that they are willing to share personal data to enable touchless process, up significantly from 30% in June.

Firthermore, IATA is developing the IATA Travel Pass in four independent modules that can interact with each other.

These modules will cover registries for regulatory entry requirements and labs/test centers, verified certificate issuance, digital identity and the possibility for passengers to share their tests results along their journey via their mobile device.

Open standards enable the modules to be used as one solution or to complement capabilities being developed by other solutions providers.

“We are building the IATA Travel Pass with one aim—to help reconnect our world safely,” according to Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President, Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security.

IATA has brought advancements in global standards like e-ticketing and mobile boarding passes to consumers in all parts of the world.

Hence, “We are confident that we can deliver a complete solution with IATA Travel Pass.”