April 20 2021  |  Aviation Trends

IATA and Unilabs partner to help passengers manage COVID-19 tests

By Jane Hobson

Screenshot sample of IATA Travel Pass app

European diagnostic services provider Unilabs and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have signed an agreement to incorporate Unilabs’ worldwide COVID-19 testing network into the IATA Travel Pass. The agreement will make Unilabs one of the first major lab groups to be integrated into the app.

Introduced in January, IATA Travel Pass provides information on entry requirements, directs travelers to trusted labs, and allows passengers to receive and manage digital certificates for tests or vaccinations. Proof of a negative COVID-19 test is required by many governments as a condition of entry, and the app makes the process seamless, secure, and easy.

Unilabs will be able to securely upload test results in IATA Travel Pass, which are then checked against the IATA Timatic global registry of national health requirements, to produce an “OK to Travel” status. Through the app, passengers can share their status and the digital test certificates with authorities, airports and airlines.

IATA Travel Pass is a mobile app to help travelers easily and securely manage travel, adhering to government requirements for COVID-19 testing or vaccine information

SAUDIA is among the world’s leading airlines to partner with IATA on the use of the Travel Pass app, trialing it on its Kuala Lumpur – Jeddah route on April 19. Singapore Airlines was the first airline to pilot to program, with the first traveler successfully arriving at London’s Heathrow Airport in mid-March using the IATA Travel Pass app to manage their travel health credentials on a Singapore flight.

Pilot program in UAE
Unilabs and IATA are currently running a pilot program in the UAE. Once the processes are successfully up and running, the initiative will be rolled out to other entities of the Unilabs network in many countries.

Alongside PCR tests, Unilabs also performs antigen and serology tests. Since the start of the pandemic, the lab group has performed nearly 10 million tests across its network in 17 countries. It employs 12,700 employees across 150 imaging centers and 250 labs.

“Testing will play a role in re-starting international travel. Travelers will need to understand test requirements, locate labs, verify their identity to the lab and transfer their test results to relevant parties – airlines and governments – as needed. Our partnership with Unilabs will give travelers access to Unilabs’ extensive network and help them securely and efficiently manage their test results,” said Willie Walsh, Director General at IATA.

“We are delighted that IATA has chosen us for this initiative,” said Michiel Boehmer, Unilabs’ President and COO. “As international travel starts coming back, we are ready to do our bit – delivering the fast, effective, and reliable COVID-19 tests that will get people moving again.”

IATA represents some 290 airlines comprising 82 percent of global air traffic. Everything you need to know about the IATA Travel Pass can be found here.

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