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International travel could return in months under vaccine passport trial


Passengers travelling from Auckland to Sydney from April will use the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Travel Pass app, which links to passports.

Passengers will also carry verified copies of their COVID-19 test results and vaccination records, once the jabs become widely available.

New Zealanders allowed back into New South Wales
Passengers wearing facemasks as they arrive into the international arrivals area at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport after landing on Air New Zealand flight number NZ103 from Auckland on October 16 in Sydney, Australia. Travellers from New Zealand are now able to visit New South Wales without having to quarantine under a new one-way trans-Tasman travel agreement. (James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
The industry-developed app will give passengers up-to-date information about what tests and vaccines they need to enter their destination, reports The Age.

Health providers would send verified test results or vaccination certificates directly to the app.

The app would then produce an “OK to travel” notification to satisfy both airlines and immigration authorities they meet that country’s COVID-19 health requirements.

Alysha Eyre, an Australian Border Force quarantine worker receiving her Pfizer vaccine in Sydney. (Edwina Pickles)

“It’s essentially like having a digital health certificate that can be easily and securely shared with airlines,” Air New Zealand’s airline’s chief digital officer Jennifer Sepull said.

“By having a place to store all your health credentials digitally in one place, it will not only speed up the check-in process but unlock the potential for contactless travel.”

New Zealand began its vaccination rollout on February 20.

Qantas boss Alan Joyce says international travellers will be required to have the COVID jab before travelling on his airline. (Supplied)

Industry experts predict a COVID-19 vaccine will be mandatory for international travel once borders reopen.

“If you’ve got a vaccine passport and you’re coming from a low-risk country, then you’ll probably be deemed absolutely safe and there’ll be no restriction whatsoever,” University of South Australia epidemiologist Adrian Esterman said.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has already flagged his airline would not allow unvaccinated passengers to travel, from November.

Other airlines including Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and British Airways have confirmed they plan to use the IATA app however Qantas has not yet decided on its use.