Virgin Atlantic to trial vaccine passports

Virgin Atlantic staff
Virgin Atlantic staff (PA Archive)
14:41pm, Fri 26 Mar 2021
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

Virgin Atlantic has become the latest airline to announce a trial of so-called vaccine passports.

Customers on flights to Barbados from April 16 will be invited to use the Travel Pass app to verify they meet the Caribbean island’s entry requirements for pre-departure coronavirus testing.

Future versions of the app – developed by airline trade body the International Air Transport Association – will incorporate coronavirus vaccine records.

We can see a flightpath to soon allow the safe restart of international travel

Virgin Atlantic said it will seek permission from the UK Government to expand the trial to accommodate customers arriving on flights from Barbados to London Heathrow.

A number of other airlines are also using the app, including British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Qantas and Qatar Airways.

From next week, passengers flying with Virgin Atlantic to the US will be able to upload their test documents to a website operated by US firm TrustAssure, where they will be checked using automated artificial intelligence (AI) technology within two minutes.

Once verification is completed, travellers will be sent a QR code enabling them to pass through the airport check-in process.

A Virgin plane (PA Archive)

Virgin Atlantic chief customer and operating officer Corneel Koster said: “In parallel to the UK’s successful vaccination programme and accompanied by a risk-based, phased easing of restrictions, we can see a flightpath to soon allow the safe restart of international travel at scale, in time for summer.

“When the skies reopen, rapid affordable testing combined with digital health integration will be vital to streamline and simplify the customer experience, make border health checks manageable and build consumer confidence.

“Governments, industry and technology companies need to work together to lead the adoption of digital solutions with global common standards that are accepted at borders.”

Overseas holidays are banned due to the UK’s coronavirus lockdown, but Boris Johnson said on Wednesday he will make an announcement on April 5 about lifting restrictions.

The Government’s Global Travel Taskforce will provide a report to the Prime Minister on April 12 setting out recommendations for how and when foreign holidays could resume.

Under his road map for easing restrictions, the earliest date for travel is May 17.

Sign up to our newsletter