Saudi national airline to trial IATA's COVID-19 Travel Pass from April 19

Dubai: Saudi Arabia’s flagship airline Saudia has become the latest Middle East airline to begin trialing the ‘Travel Pass’, the digital health passport from International Air Transport Association (IATA). Saudia will start on the Kuala Lumpur–Jeddah route on April 19.

Guests travelling with Saudia will be able to visit a designated laboratory in Malaysia to complete PCR test requirements, which can then be uploaded on the IATA Travel App for use in onward travel to Saudi Arabia. The Travel Pass is a mobile app that will enable passengers to create digital passports where test and vaccine data can be securely loaded and shared, to ensure that governmental health requirements are fulfilled both at the departure and destination points.

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Leading the pack

Qatar Airways is leading the pack in implementing the travel pass. Since March 11, passengers planning on travelling on the Doha-to-Istanbul route have begun trialling it. “We are proud to be at the forefront of trialling this platform, being one of the first globally and the first airline in the Middle East,” said Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways Group, in a statement.

Etihad is going live

Etihad had previously said trials will begin in April on its North American routes. “We've been waiting to ensure that the travel pass that we trial is in fact as efficient for the guests as it is for the airline, and that as I said is the major challenge that all of the developers are facing across a number of products,” said an official during a virtual event last month.

Following the trial, once the IATA Travel Pass is finalized, it will be rolled out across the Saudia's network. “This is the first step in making regional and international travel during the pandemic as convenient as possible giving people the confidence they are meeting COVID-19 government health requirements,” said Nick Careen, IATA Senior Vice-President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security.

“IATA Travel Pass holds the key to the safe restart of the travel and tourism industry, which is an important contributor to Saudi Arabia’s economy.”

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