Justin Tighe Umbers Justin Tighe Umbers

Support for pre-departure Covid-19 tests

The Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand (BARNZ) is supporting the implementation of pre-departure tests.

Airlines have quickly actioned predeparture testing for Covid-19 in the United States and the United Kingdom. Now airlines flying to New Zealand will work with the New Zealand Government to ensure the same testing protocols are in place for other destinations by 25 January.

Justin Tighe-Umbers, executive director of BARNZ, says international airlines are dealing with constant changing requirements at borders.

‘Our members support predeparture testing where it is required and this is in line with what the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has been calling for governments around the world to implement,’ Tighe-Umbers says. ‘A recent IATA traveller survey shows that passengers strongly support and are willing to undergo testing.’

Airlines globally also have stringent measures in place to protect air travellers, many already have pre-departure testing of passengers on their networks, require masks, crew wear PPE and aircraft cabins have HEPA filters replacing air every two to three minutes.

Any international crew coming to New Zealand is kept within its own ‘bubble’, with dedicated buses for the crew from the airport to one of the managed isolation hotels. Crew members stay in their rooms and are transported back to the airport for their next flight in the same bubble.

Tighe-Umbers says as vaccination is rolled out internationally, travel will be enabled by digital health passports, or travel passes, that validate pre-departure tests along with proof of vaccination.

Airlines launch IATA travel pass

The International Air Transport Association’s IATA Travel Pass is being tentatively rolled out over the next few weeks. The mobile app will help passengers easily and securely manage their travel in line with government requirements for Covid-19 tests or vaccines.

The pass will enable passengers to create a ‘digital passport’ to receive Covid test results and verify they are eligible to undertake their journey. It will keep passengers in control of their data and facilitate the sharing of their test with airlines and authorities for travel. It will also make it convenient for passengers to manage travel documentation throughout their journey.

Among airlines already set to launch the pass are Etihad and Emirates.

IATA supports EU vax cert

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged all branches of the European Union to support an initiative from Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to agree a common digital European Covid-19 vaccination certificate that would enable those who are vaccinated to travel freely within Europe without Covid-19 testing. In an open letter to Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, and copied to key policy-makers across the EU, IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac called on EU states to coordinate a policy that would see Europe safely gain the economic and social benefits of freedom of movement.

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