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United Airlines, which offers service to Fresno Yosemite International airport, is joining other large carriers planning to begin implementing a digital health pass to confirm passengers have obtained a negative COVID-19 test result before flying to and from select airports.

When a COVID vaccine is available, the digital pass may also be used by some carriers to prove a traveler has been vaccinated.

While a health pass is not currently required for airline travel to and from Fresno, some destinations — including Hawaii, the Caribbean and in Central America — have implemented COVID-19 related requirements.

“People will not get vaccinated in order to travel. They will get vaccinated in order to prevent a COVID-19 infection. When they are vaccinated, they will want to prove that in a range of places and times.”Thomas Crampton, CommonPass spokesperson

More Airlines Implementing CommonPass

The CEO of Australia’s national airline, Qantas, has previously said the carrier will require future international travelers to prove they have been vaccinated against before flying. A spokesperson for Korean Air said last Tuesday there’s a real possibility that airlines will also require that passengers be vaccinated.

The international CommonPass project aims to develop and launch a standardized platform to enable people to securely document and confirm their COVID-19 status to government travel officials while keeping their health information private.

Thomas Crampton, a CommonPass spokesperson, said via email that his non-profit does not see the digital health pass as a travel challenge. “People will not get vaccinated in order to travel. They will get vaccinated in order to prevent a COVID-19 infection. When they are vaccinated, they will want to prove that in a range of places and times,” says Crampton.

Additional airlines JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic are set to begin rolling out CommonPass to passengers this month on select flights from New York, Boston, London, and Hong Kong.

The app is enabled by a network of labs, vaccine distributors, and health care providers that agree to provide individuals with digital access to their own health information using open technology standards on a non-profit basis.

United Airlines CEO

CommonTrust Network airlines JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic are set to begin roll-out of CommonPass to passengers this month on select flights from New York, Boston, London, and Hong Kong.

“United has consistently demonstrated its leadership in developing innovative solutions to help ensure a safer travel experience for our customers during these challenging times, which now includes being one of the first airlines to join the CommonTrust Network,” said Steve Morrissey, United’s vice president, regulatory and policy. Testing is a key component of our multi-layered approach to safely reopening travel and ensuring our customers’ wellbeing, and we look forward to using technology platforms like CommonPass to provide travelers and governments confidence in verified COVID-19 testing results,” he said.

Apple Health and CommonHealth let individuals store their health records securely and privately on their phones, entirely under their control. (Image courtesy of CommonPass)

Health Pass Tryout in October

CommonPass was first trialed in October on Cathay Pacific Airways and United Airlines flights between Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and New York.

Government observers of the trials included U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, and the United Kingdom Border Force and Ministry for Transport.

Not the Only Digital Pass Being Tested

CommonPass isn’t the only digital health pass being tested. Another, called AOKpass and developed by the International Chamber of Commerce is currently being used between Abu Dhabi and Pakistan. And global airline lobby International Air Transport Association also announced recently its own digital health pass, called the IATA Travel Pass, is in the final development phase and will come to market next year.

What About Employers?

GV Wire℠ asked Crampton is he foresees the digital pass as something that employers could use to ensure their employees are safe to return to work.

“Yes, work is another place where the proof of vaccination will be key,” he responded.

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