Private South African airline Airlink will become the first carrier in South Africa to trial the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Pass.
The Travel Pass is a digital smartphone app that allows passengers to provide accurate information about their Covid-19 health status and access entry requirements for any country they intend to visit.
This is separate from digital Covid-19 Certificate that the government plans to use at the national level.
Airlink said the trial will be carried out on Airlink flights between South Africa and Namibia in November 2021. The airline operates flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Windhoek and Walvis Bay.
The IATA Travel Pass is being developed to support the reopening of quarantine-free borders and the safe restart of international aviation and tourism. It is considered safer and more efficient than current paper-based processes used to manage sanitary requirements.
In Airlink’s trials, the IATA Travel Pass will confirm before departure that passengers meet the Covid-19 test requirements to travel with Airlink on flights between South Africa and Namibia.
Airlink customers traveling on these routes will be able to download the IATA Travel Pass app from the Apple Store or of google play. Currently, it can only be used when traveling with trial-participating airlines.
As this is a trial and subject to adjustments, passengers should always carry printed copies of their negative Covid-19 PCR test results while travelling, Airlink said.
“The adoption of secure digital health solutions such as IATA Travel Pass to verify Covid-19 test and vaccination certificates as well as relevant entry requirements is urgently needed to remove the uncertainty currently discouraging travel. international air travel and, by extension, desperately needed business, commerce, tourism and job creation across southern Africa,” said Airlink Managing Director Rodger Foster.
Updated lockdown travel rules
The trial of the new IATA pass comes after the government eased flight restrictions for South Africans this week.
Notably, domestic air operators are permitted to provide prepackaged catering on board the aircraft but must take into account all Covid-19 health measures.
Airlines may also provide free magazines, which passengers must pick up upon entering the plane. Passengers are not allowed to share these magazines.
For international travel, a traveler must provide a valid certificate with a negative Covid-19 test result, recognized by the World Health Organization or equivalent accredited local authority, obtained no later than 72 hours prior to travel date.
International scheduled operations and charter flights carrying passengers are permitted at the following airports:
- OR Tambo International Airport;
- King Shaka International Airport;
- Cape Town International Airport
- Lanséria International Airport;
- Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport.
Departures and landings of long-haul flights at the airports listed above are permitted during curfew hours. However, passengers are required to show a valid boarding pass if stopped by law enforcement.
Read: Updated Tier 1 lockdown rules for schools and travel in South Africa