Air New Zealand will trial a digital health-verification tool on its Auckland-Sydney route from April, it said Tuesday as it prepares for travel in a post-pandemic world.
The Travel Pass application, developed by the International Air Transport Association, allows air crew and customers to store health credentials on their phones for secure and contactless verification.
"Air New Zealand is demonstrating its industry leadership being among the first airlines in the world to offer its passengers a digital travel pass," association vice president Nick Careen said. The application conforms to the "highest levels of data privacy."
After being vaccinated or tested, medical laboratories will send results to patients' applications and with their permission, can be shared with airlines and border officials to certify their eligibility to travel.
In addition to speeding up check-in and guaranteeing the safety of other passengers, Air New Zealand expects the tool to be a springboard to completely contactless future travel.
"Once borders reopen travel is going to look very different," the airline's chief digital officer Jennifer Sepull said.
Air New Zealand hopes the travel pass application will give passengers confidence that fellow passengers are healthy to fly.
Customers' health data will need to be verified before boarding - "essentially like having a digital health certificate that can be easily and securely shared with airlines," she added.
The application will be trialed for three weeks in April with both airline staff and passengers invited to participate. It won't be mandatory right now.
In Australia, authorities are cautiously optimistic about the trial and the department of health praised any method that can ensure the safety of citizens "through efficient collection and verification of traveler data."
However, the government estimates that one in six Australians only will have the vaccination by the time the travel pass trial launches - making it unlikely that many people will be able to participate.