MIAMI – Coronavirus passports will be trialed on some flights from London Heathrow (LHR) this week. The passports will work through an app called CommonPass. United Airlines (UA) and Cathay Pacific (CX) passengers will be the first to trial the app on flights to New York, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The trial will operate on a volunteer basis.
The aim of technology is to allow people to travel without being required to quarantine. This would enable air travel to return to pre-COVID levels much faster. The trial has been launched by Commons Project Foundation, which is a non-profit under the World Economic Forum.
However, the success of the coronavirus passport would depend on governments around the world accepting the test results and allowing passengers who test negative, to travel freely.
How the Passport Works
Travelers wishing to obtain one of these ‘passes’ would first have to get tested at an approved lab in their home country (or be vaccinated, if one becomes available). The results would then be sent to a national database or health apps like Apple Health or Google’s CommonHealth.
CommonPass would then assess any current travel restrictions for the destination, as well as the location and result of the test. The app would then determine whether the traveler would be cleared to enter his or her destination country. A unique QR code is then generated that can be scanned by airline staff and border officials.
Lifting of Restrictions?
This new trial comes at critical time for the aviation industry, with many airlines struggling to stay afloat.
Dr. Bradley Perkins, chief medical officer of The Commons Project, said, ‘Without the ability to trust COVID-19 tests – and eventually vaccine records – across international borders, many countries will feel compelled to retain full travel bans and mandatory quarantines for as long as the pandemic persists.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reported to have asked ministers and officials, to conduct a ‘rapid review’ into the effectiveness of using this kind of system to ease restrictions on travelers. CommonPass says it adheres to tight privacy principles and is designed to protect personal data in line with current privacy regulations.
London Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5C (satellite 2) viewed from airfield, May 2011. David Dyson