MIAMI – In an unexpected move, Finnair (AY) has issued a press release indicating that the carrier is accepting vaccination certificates as proof of travel credentials with effect from May 11.

The decision, the first of its kind, is presented as an alternative to a Covid negative test or proof of a previously contracted infection. Such credential is considered valid after the first vaccine injection has been administered without waiting for the immunization to be completed.

Finnair requires, since late January, that all passengers traveling to Finland – excluding transfer passengers – present either a negative test certificate or an immunity/recovery certificate as a prerequisite for boarding. This requirement is in line with the recommendations from the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare.

This decision was confirmed by Kimmo Ketolz, AY Medical Director, who stated, “Vaccines have proven their power in fighting the pandemic, and vaccination certificates will play a key role in the upcoming EU Digital Green Certificate to ensure the health and safety of traveler’s, the likelihood of a vaccinated person being infected and transmitting COVID-19 is very small.”

Finnair OH-LZP Airbus A321 – Photo : Alberto Cucini/Airways

Not an Easy Task

The Airline will, however, find itself in a kind of administrative quicksand with different languages and formats or with countries, like France, where vaccination certificates are issued only when the immunization process is completed. Moreover, at present there is not a common practice being enforced by all carriers adding more confusion in this particular situation.

The AY press release states that the airline will accept only WHO (World Health Organization) or EMA (European Medical Agency) approved vaccination certificates but, up to date, none of the two agencies has decided on its format, EU Green Pass is still under test, while a multitude of certifications is being proposed by international organizations.

There you may find IATA, with its TravelPass, or worldwide groups like IBM with its Digital Pass, or Common Pass used by Lufthansa (LH), United (UA), and JetBlue (B6) without forgetting VeryFly used by British Airways (BA), Alaska Airlines (AS), and American (AA) while New York has developed its own Excelsior Pass followed by WTTO (World Travel and Tourism Organization) and its SafeTravel. Mindboggling.

Featured image: Finnair Airbus A350-900 with factory registration F-WZGY – Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways