MIAMI – The International Air transport Association (IATA) has issued several press releases on issues concerning its Travel Pass, the easing of travel restrictions in Singapore, and the ongoing situation concerning the Afghan airspace.

IATA Travel Pass Adopted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

IATA is welcoming the announced decision taken by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to formally adopt the IATA Travel Pass as a means to confirm proper Covid-19 test both for departing and arriving travelers beginning from September 30. For the time being, vaccination certificates are not accepted but the situation may evolve in the future.

The IATA Travel Pass, for which Saudia Arabian Airlines (SV) was a trial carrier, will be available for travelers to and from Saudi Arabia along with the locally developed application Tawakkalna while work between IATA and GACA to make the IATA Travel Pass a document for pre-arrival clearance in the Kingdom.

“Our collaboration with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, GACA, Tawakkalna, and Saudi Arabian Airlines demonstrate a shared commitment to restore international air travel safely. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s acceptance of the IATA Travel Pass will demonstrate how digital solutions can effectively manage both COVID-19 vaccine and test certificates,” was the comment made by Willie Walsh, IATA Director-General, on the cooperative work carried out by all parties.

Willie Walsh was joined by GACA President, Abdulaziz A. Al Duailej statement: “GACA is committed to supporting all stakeholders to ease and facilitate air travel in an efficient and effective way by adopting best international practices while taking full consideration of ICAO’s CART guidance by our wider country’s authorities in the decision-making processes on national recovery planning.”

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

IATA Praises Singapore for the Easing of Travel Restrictions

IATA’s Deputy Director-General, Conrad Clifford, commented on the plans being decided by Singapore and aiming to ease the entry and travel restrictions in force in the country.

The move taken by Singapore is hailed as “a positive step in the right direction” while understanding the cautious approach but with the hope of seeing more future lifting of the quarantine requirements seen as a welcome help in restoring tourism and air travel.

Conrad Clifford stressed that more than one and half year have gone by since borders closed worldwide and international travel came to a stop. Although progress has been made on Covid-19 knowledge and control, the IATA Deputy Director-General notices that “unfortunately many states in the Asia Pacific region continue to adopt a zero-Covid-risk approach and continue to shut their borders.”

"We have seen moves around the world to reopen borders, allow international travel, and restarting their aviation and tourism sectors. Asia-Pacific risks being left behind." IATA Deputy Director-General, Conrad Clifford Click To Tweet

He also added that this attitude is “not sustainable and detrimental to their economies and populations” considering that a different approach, mainly data-driven, using vaccination and tests allow the management of risks linked to the pandemic. By easing entry restrictions, Singapore has proven that it is safe to re-open borders without quarantine.

Ariana Afghan Airlines Airbus A310-300 YA-CAV. Photo: Ariana Afghan Airlines via Facebook

Afghan Airspace Monitored by IATA

IATA is closely monitoring the ongoing situation in the Afghan airspace to ensure that safe and secure flight conditions continue to be a top priority for aviation.

As a consequence of the recent facts affecting Afghanistan, the Kabul (KBL) controlled FIR (Flight Information Region), an important cross point for routes to and from Asia, is no more in the hands of a civilian controlled Air Traffic Service (ATS) thus prompting airlines to avoid the Afghan airspace.

Afghanistan Airspace on August 19 at 17:40 UTC – Image from Flightradar24

The ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) has activated a Contingency Coordination Team (CCT), of which IATA is a participating member, a standard protocol combining the resources of both IATA and ICAO along with the States involved, and Eurocontrol to manage this emergency situation.

Owing to the pandemic reduction in air traffic, flight overflying the Afghan airspace is much lower than usual and the states surrounding Afghanistan, have ensured that they can accommodate additional traffic and ensure safe and secure operations. However, detours to avoid the afghan airspace will have consequences in terms of flight time, fuel burn, and operations.

Airlines concerned are coordinating and communicating with IATA by means of the Standard Contingency Protocol and sharing information thru the IATA Global Tactical Operations Portal (ITOP).

Featured image: Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner HZ-AR13. Photo: Davide Calabresi/Airways