Virgin Atlantic today said that it would launch two parallel digital health certificate – or “vaccine passport” – trials as more carriers turn their attention to restarting international travel.
The Sir Richard Branson-founded airline said it would trial global aviation body IATA’s smartphone app on trips from the UK to Barbados from 16 April.
It is the latest in a number of carriers, including Rwandair and Air Serbia, to test the system.
At the same time, it will also try out a new system designed by Trust Assure on flights to US destinations, starting on 29 March.
Virgin Atlantic’s joint venture partner Delta Airlines has already begun tests of the system, which uploads and validates passengers’ test documentation data using A.I..
Once confirmed, passengers receive a QR code with a green verification, meaning they can proceed quickly through check-in.
Virgin’s chief customer officer Corneel Koster said: “In parallel to the UK’s successful vaccination programme and accompanied by a risk-based, phased easing of restrictions, we can see a flightpath to soon allow the safe restart of international travel at scale, in time for summer.
“When the skies reopen, rapid, affordable testing combined with digital health integration will be vital to streamline and simplify the customer experience, make border health checks manageable and build consumer confidence.”
Vaccine passports are widely considered one of the most likely ways that countries can get air travel going again as the world begins to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.
Along with various private companies, like British Airways, the EU has said that it is developing its own digital health certificate to enable foreign travel.
The UK has also been in discussions with various countries over such a step. It is expected that the Global Travel Taskforce will make recommendations regarding such an option when it reports to ministers on 12 April.