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Air New Zealand to Test Out Digital Health Passport on Its Auckland-Sydney Route

Travel + Leisure logo Travel + Leisure 2/23/2021 Alison Fox
a large air plane on a runway at an airport: James D. Morgan/Getty Images © Provided by Travel + Leisure James D. Morgan/Getty Images

This spring, Air New Zealand will begin a trial period with a digital health passport as flying with test results or proof of vaccination in a digital format becomes more prevalent in air travel.

The airline will trial the digital travel pass app developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), on flights between Auckland and Sydney starting in April. The trial, set to run for three weeks, will include both customers as well as Air New Zealand's crew.

"Once borders reopen, travel is going to look very different, with customers' health data needing to be verified at check-in. It's essentially like having a digital health certificate that can be easily and securely shared with airlines," Air New Zealand's Chief Digital Officer, Jennifer Sepull, said in a statement Monday of the IATA travel pass. "Reassuring customers that travel is in fact safe is one of our priorities. By using the app, customers can have confidence that everyone onboard meets the same government health requirements they do."

After a customer gets tested or vaccinated, Air New Zealand said the lab will "securely send data to the individual's app." It will then issue a green tick to customers who have met the travel requirements for their destination.

Air New Zealand isn't the only carrier to sign up for IATA's travel pass. In January, Etihad Airways and Emirates became the first airlines in the world to partner with the group.

The IATA Travel Pass is one of several digital health passports being rolled out, including one from American Airlines and one from security company CLEAR.

Several countries have also turned to vaccine passports as a way to jumpstart tourism, like the Seychelles and the country of Georgia, which are each welcoming fully vaccinated travelers.

But while this travel pass will be used to facilitate travel between New Zealand and Australia (the countries have agreed to start a two-way travel bubble), it will still be awhile before either nation opens to travelers from other countries.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she won't reopen the country's borders until all its citizens are vaccinated. And Australia said even vaccinated foreign travelers will have to comply with the country's mandatory two-week hotel quarantine.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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