Want to fly abroad? You may need an ‘Immunity Passport’

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on May 22, 2020

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IATA moots temporary measures for restart of aviation; says Covid immunity should be recognised as a global standard if medical evidence supports it

Post Covid-19, international passengers may have to carry an additional passport — an ‘Immunity Passport’. This document, if the plan is approved, will use a set of parameters to identify Covid-19 no-risk travellers.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has mooted the idea of ‘Immunity Passport’ as one of the temporary measures the aviation industry can take as it prepares to restart operations.

IATA believes that the Immunity Passport could play an important role in facilitating the restart of air travel. If a passenger could be documented as having recovered from Covid-19, and thus immune to the disease, he/she would not need protective measures such as face cover and temperature checks during the travel process, said a document titled ‘Biosecurity for Air Transport — A Roadmap for Restarting Aviation’. IATA has circulated the document — covering on the a proposed temporary layered approach for re-starting passenger flights — to trade members.

However, the medical evidence regarding immunity from Covid-19 is still inconclusive, so Immunity Passports are not currently supported. However, IATA believes that when medical evidence supports the concept of immunity passport, it should be recognised as a global standard, and the corresponding documents should be available electronically.

Passenger segregation

IATA would support the development of such a document — once backed by medical science and recognised by governments — to segregate no-risk travellers, said the association.

In normal times, aviation delivers $2.7 trillion in global GDP. Each of the 25 million employees in the airline industry is estimated to help support up to 24 other jobs in the broader economy. More than a third of global trade by value moves by air.

Successfully restarting air passenger travel and restoring confidence in the safety of air travel are vital prerequisites to enabling the global economy to recover from Covid-19, said IATA.

The association has suggested temporary measures to be taken for both departures and arrivals. This end-to-end process includes pre-flight, check-in, self-bag drop, boarding, in-flight, arrival, border and customs control, baggage college and transfer screening.

On quarantine, social distancing

IATA reiterated its opposition to social distancing on board aircraft and quarantine measures on arrival.

Quarantine measures are obviated by a combination of temperature checks and contract tracing, it said. Temperature screening reduces the risk of symptomatic passengers from travelling, while health declarations and contact tracing after arrival reduce the risk of imported cases developing into local chains of transmission, it observed.

IATA said in a separate statement that social distancing on board (leaving the middle seat open) is obviated by the wearing of face coverings by all on board, on top of the transmission reducing characteristics of the cabin — everybody is front facing, air flow is from ceiling to floor, seats provide a barrier to forward/aft transmission, and air filtration systems operate to hospital operating theatre standards.

Published on May 22, 2020

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