October 31, 2020

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Airlines are testing a new COVID-19 digital health pass so passengers can easily prove they’ve tested negative for coronavirus

3 min read
© Lee Yiu Tung/Shutterstock.com Lee Yiu Tung/Shutterstock.com Beginning this week, travelers on select airlines can...



a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Lee Yiu Tung/Shutterstock.com


© Lee Yiu Tung/Shutterstock.com
Lee Yiu Tung/Shutterstock.com

  • Beginning this week, travelers on select airlines can download the CommonPass, which is a digital certificate passengers can use in order to prove that they’ve tested negative for the coronavirus.
  • The CommonPass is backed by The World Economic Forum and can be download to your phone.
  • The pilot program at the airlines begin as the coronavirus pandemic has led to a decrease in demand for flights, and over 32,000 US airline workers are in the process of getting furloughed.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The airline industry is testing a new digital health pass that could remove some of the headaches associated with traveling amid a pandemic.

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Beginning this week, travelers on select airlines can download the CommonPass, a digital certificate that passengers can use in order to prove that they’ve tested negative for the coronavirus, the Financial Times reported. The digital pass can be accessed on their phone.

Importantly, the CommonPass is not a vehicle for getting a COVID-19 test. Instead, it simply allows travelers to access and show airline officials their test results or vaccination record. The framework for the digital pass was developed by The World Economic Forum and the Common Project Foundation, a Swiss-based not-for-profit.

“As it stands, travellers are presenting their test results on pieces of paper — or photos of paper — with no standard format, often in a language foreign to those inspecting them,” Paul Meyer, chief executive of the Commons Project, told the Financial Times. 

United Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways are ready to give the digital health pass a try. They will be tested on trips to global destinations, including Hong Kong, Singapore, London and New York.

Trials in October are going to be monitored by a handful of government agencies, like the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as US border officials. The pilot programs begin as there currently isn’t a formal international system of universal quarantine requirements. 

“Individual national responses will not be sufficient to address this global crisis,” Christoph Wolff, Head of Mobility at The World Economic Forum, told FT. “Bans, bubbles and quarantines may provide short-term protection but developed and developing nations alike need a long-term, flexible, and risk-based approach.”

There have also been other initiatives in an effort to make international air travel more secure.

CLEAR, a biometric security company, announced that it’s collaborating with Quest Diagnostics to construct the “Health Pass.” It’s a new mobile app that connects a person’s identity to “multiple layers of COVID-19 related insights,” according to a press release. 

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the airline industry has been devastating for many within it. On Thursday, airlines in the US began the process of furloughing over 32,000 employees nationwide as industry protections from The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, began to expire. 

Demand for travel plummeted 97% at the beginning of the pandemic. Even though demand slightly picked up around holidays like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and even Labor Day last month, it had just reached 30% compared to the levels seen in 2019. 

It’s unclear if and when additional government aid could arrive. President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced that he informed his team to halt stimulus negotiations until the November election has concluded. On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi followed up on the uncertainty surrounding stimulus talks, saying that she “would not support a standalone bill for airline aid unless it accompanied a larger support package.”

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