Travel Execs Support New Digital Health Pass After Trials

On Wednesday, a group of travel executives took a United Airlines flight from London Heathrow Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport to trial CommonPass, a digital health app intended to accelerate a safer opening of international borders. The trial took place under observation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

CommonPass establishes a standard method for lab results and vaccination records to be certified across borders, replacing the current method of sharing paper-based and easily falsified COVID-19 test results from unknown labs. It was created by the World Economic Forum and The Commons Project, a Swiss-based non-profit foundation that builds global digital services and platforms.

Among those participating in the event were The Commons Project CEO Paul Meyer; The Commons Project chief medical officer Bradley Perkins; Internova Travel Group CEO J.D. O’Hara and SVP, airline relations Peter Vlitas; Global Travel Collection managing director Jason Oshiokpekhai, and others. Prior to departure, they downloaded the CommonPass app, answered screening questions and took a COVID-19 test at the airport. A negative test result generated a digital health pass via a QR code, which allowed them to board the flight at London Heathrow.

“The ability to verify health information in a secure, verified manner will allow countries and regions to open borders and restart the travel industry along with the economic activity that comes with it,” said O’Hara in a press statement following the trial. “This CommonPass pilot demonstrates that we have a means of enabling safer cross-border travel by giving both travelers and governments confidence in the COVID-19 status of every traveler.”

O’Hara additionally noted the process was “easy to understand, quick and efficient.”

Separately, following the trial, U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow said, “The U.S. and global economies simply cannot afford to wait for a widely distributed COVID vaccine for international travel to resume, so innovative technologies and the embrace of best health practices need to provide the way forward. A rapid and secure means of verifying travelers’ COVID status is an important component of that, so we’re excited about the advancement of CommonPass.”

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