- Özgür Töre
Get ready to hear this word: CommonPass. It would be a key element; maybe a requirement for traveling. CommonPass will be the new standard to verify passengers’ COVID-19 status.
Travel industry executives completed Phase I of CommonPass, a digital health pass aimed at enabling safer travel and the reopening of international borders. Travel industry executives met at London Heathrow Airport as part of a transatlantic trial of CommonPass.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, observed Phase I of the trial. She said: “We are encouraged by the successful trial of the CommonPass, and I am excited to be able to be here at London Heathrow to witness such a historic event.
“CommonPass, along with other critical measures such as a standardised international testing protocol, is key to reviving the seriously ailing global Travel & Tourism sector.”
Officials from Internova Travel Group, the World Travel & Tourism Council, The Commons Project Foundation and the World Economic Forum gathered at Heathrow after the completion of the first phase of the transatlantic trial. Phase II will be complete when industry executives, who volunteered to test the medical registry, land at Newark Liberty International Airport and disembark from United Flight 15.
Volunteers used the CommonPass health pass on their mobile phone to document their certified COVID-19 status.
Internova Travel Group CEO J.D. O’Hara said: “The ability to verify health information in a secure, certified 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.
U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow issued the following statement on the arrival in the U.S. of the first international flight utilizing the CommonPass digital health system to rapidly verify passengers’ COVID-19 status:
“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.
“Developing processes to quickly approve and implement these kinds of beneficial technologies will be particularly vital, so we are grateful to the CDC and Customs and Border Protection for observing these trials. System-wide flexibility to safely improve the overall travel process can help navigate out of the crippling economic fallout of COVID-related travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, and can hopefully pay further dividends for more seamless and convenient travel even once the pandemic has subsided.”
CommonPass is built on the CommonPass Framework that establishes standard methods for lab results and vaccination records to be certified and enables governments to set and verify their own health criteria for travellers.
At present, COVID-19 test results for travel are frequently shared on printed paper — or photos of the paper – from unknown labs, often written in languages foreign to those inspecting them. There is no standard format or certification system.
“Travel and tourism has been down across the board due to the COVID pandemic,” said Diane Sabatino, Deputy Executive Director, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). “CBP wants to be part of the solution to build confidence in air travel, and we are glad to help the aviation industry and our federal partners stand up a pilot like CommonPass.”
Cathay Pacific Airways and United Airlines will trial the system in October with select volunteers on flights between London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore, with government authorities observing. Deployments are planned with additional airlines and routes across Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East in quick succession.
The goal of the trials is to replicate the full traveller experience of taking a test for COVID-19 prior to departure, uploading the result to their phones, and demonstrating their compliance with entry requirements at their departure and destination airports.
For Cathay Pacific Airways, the first internal trial is planned for a flight between Hong Kong International Airport and Singapore Changi International Airport, using rapid testing technology provided by Prenetics.
To use CommonPass, travellers take a COVID-19 test at a certified lab and upload the results to their mobile phone. They then complete any additional health screening questionnaires required by the destination country.
With test results and questionnaire complete, CommonPass confirms a traveller’s compliance with the destination country entry requirements and generates a QR code. That code can be scanned by airline staff and border officials. A QR code can be printed for users without mobile devices.
CommonPass adheres to tight privacy principles and is designed to protect personal data in compliance with relevant privacy regulations, including GDPR.
For governments, CommonPass and the CommonPass Framework provide a more reliable means of assessing the health status of incoming travellers and gives them the flexibility to adapt their entry requirements as the pandemic evolves, including whether and what type of lab tests or vaccinations to require.