In a great leap forward for aviation and health in the region, Airlink is to become the first carrier in Southern Africa to trial the Iata Travel Pass, a secure digital smartphone app that allows passengers to provide accurate information on their COVID-19 health status and also to access the entry requirements of any countries they intend visiting.

The trial will be carried out on Airlink’s flights between South Africa and Namibia during November. Airlink operates flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town to both Windhoek and Walvis Bay.

The Iata Travel Pass is intended to support the reopening of borders without quarantine and allow the safe restart of international aviation and tourism. Iata has said it is more secure and efficient than current paper processes used to manage health requirements (the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, for example).

In the Airlink trials, the Travel Pass will confirm before departure that passengers meet the COVID-19 test requirements for travel with Airlink on flights between South Africa and Namibia.

“Airlink is proud to be collaborating with Iata in this crucial initiative. The adoption of secure, digital health solutions such as Iata Travel Pass for verifying COVID-19 tests and vaccination certificates as well as pertinent entry requirements, is urgently required to eliminate the uncertainty that currently deters international air travel and, by extension, business, trade, tourism and the creation of desperately needed jobs throughout Southern Africa,” said Airlink CEO and MD, Rodger Foster.

“Our collaboration with Airlink and the South African and Namibian authorities demonstrates a shared commitment to provide a digital solution for passengers to manage their health requirements for travel. This will help promote the safe restoration of international air travel within Southern Africa and between the region and its markets in other parts of Africa and around the world. Through Iata Travel Pass trials we aim to demonstrate how digital solutions can effectively manage both COVID-19 vaccine and test certificates and set an example for other governments in the region to follow,” said Nick Careen, Iata Senior VP Operations, Safety and Security.

What must pax do?

Airlink customers flying on those routes will be able to download the Iata Travel Pass app from the Apple Store or from Google Play. Currently the app can only be used when travelling with airlines participating in the trials.

As this is a trial and subject to adjustments, passengers should still carry printed copies of their negative COVID-19 PCR test results on their journey.

The following laboratories are participating in the trial:

South Africa: DNAlysis, iMed, Indalo Bio, FlowPath Laboratories, Inception Biosciences and MDS/mi-LabTest in Pinetown and Westville.

Namibia: DiagnoLab and Namib Laboratories Windhoek and Swakopmund.

The Iata Travel Pass app provides:

  • Governments with the means to verify the authenticity of tests or vaccinations and the identity of those presenting their certificates;
  • Airlines with the ability to provide accurate information to their passengers on test requirements and verify that a passenger meets the requirements for travel;
  • Laboratories with the means to issue certificates to passengers that will be recognised by governments;
  • Travellers with accurate information on test requirements, where they can get tested or vaccinated, and the means to securely convey the results/certificates to airlines and border authorities.

Iata Travel Pass has been undergoing development since 2020 and is being tested by airlines and government authorities in several other parts of the world.