Air New Zealand has announced plans to trial the IATA Travel Pass digital health passport on flights between Auckland and Sydney from April.

The carrier says it will be “among the first” to use the technology – Qatar Airways also plans to begin trials of the app on its Doha-Istanbul route in March, with fellow Gulf carrier Emirates and Etihad also having announced trial for the coming months.

ANZ said that the trial will initially run for three weeks, with both crew and customers invited to join.

Users will be able to create a “digital health wallet” linked to their e-passport, and once they have been tested and/or vaccinated, lab results will be sent securely to the individual’s app.

The app then checks the data against requirements for travel, and gives a “green tick to travel” to eligible customers. ANZ said that it is in conversation with government agencies “about options for validation of testing and vaccination”.

The news follows the resumption of a quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia.

Earlier this month the Australian government had suspended its travel bubble with New Zealand, following three community cases of Covid-19 in Auckland.

Local media quotes Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly as stating that travellers from New Zealand posed a “low risk” of bringing Covid-19 into the country.

IATA’s senior vice president airport, passenger, cargo and security, Nick Careen said that Air New Zealand was demonstrating “industry leadership” by being among the first airlines in the world to offer a digital travel pass, while ANZ’s chief digital officer Jennifer Sepull said commented:

“Once borders reopen, travel is going to look very different, with customers’ health data needing to be verified at check-in”.

“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.

“Reassuring customers that travel is in fact safe is one of our priorities. By using the app, customers can have confidence that everyone onboard meets the same government health requirements they do.

“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.”

For a look at the pros and cons of “vaccine passports”, and the different options being developed, see our recent features: