With passenger demand and airline traffic set to soar when the long-awaited two-way travel bubble begins between Australia and New Zealand next month, Air New Zealand will simultaneously start trialing a digital travel pass on flights between Auckland and Sydney.
Air New Zealand issued a media statement on Monday morning confirming the trial.
“This will give customers peace of mind that they meet all travel requirements for the different countries around the world before they even get to the airport,” Air New Zealand’s Jennifer Sepull said.
Why Sydney? Air New Zealand tells Simple Flying the route was chosen because it was the one most frequently flown.
The airline says they will be among the first airline anywhere to trial a digital app. Air New Zealand’s app of choice is the International Air Transport Association (IATA) digital travel pass app. IATA says its digital travel pass is a “global and standardized solution to validate and authenticate all country regulations regarding COVID-19 passenger travel requirements.
“The main priority is to get people traveling again safely. In the immediate term, that means establishing confidence in governments that systematic pre-departure COVID-19 testing can work as a replacement for quarantine requirements.”
Digital travel pass to offer a seamless travel experience for Air New Zealand passengers
The digital travel pass app offers passengers four key capabilities. First, passengers can create a digital passport. Second, passengers can verify their test/vaccination meets the exit and entry regulations. Third, the pass allows the sharing of test results and/or vaccination certificates with authorities to facilitate travel. Finally, the app allows passengers to manage travel documentation digitally. IATA says their app offers passengers a “seamless” travel experience.
The app also offers passengers some other side benefits. It will allow passengers to access up-to-the-minute information on vaccine and test requirements, travel, and border restrictions for countries they intend to travel to. It will also provide up-to-date information on testing sites at departure and arrival airports.
In addition, authorized laboratories and testing centers can send test results and certificates straight to the passenger.
“Informing passengers on what tests, vaccines and other measures they require prior to travel, details on where they can get tested and giving them the ability to share their tests and vaccination results in a verifiable, safe and privacy-protecting manner is the key to giving governments the confidence to open borders,” says IATA.
Air New Zealand says the trial will run for three weeks in April. Both passengers and crew will be eligible to take part in the trial.
More flights between Auckland and Sydney looking promising
While Australia is letting New Zealanders with negative PCR test results skip the otherwise mandatory 14-day quarantine, New Zealand is not due to reciprocate until towards the end of March.
That’s keeping traffic on the Auckland – Sydney route subdued. Usually, it’s one of the busiest international routes in and out of both countries. Right now, Air New Zealand is running about five flights a week to Sydney. But that’s scheduled to ramp up considerably by the end of March. It’s not quite a return to 2019 levels, but from Sunday, March 28, Air New Zealand has scheduled between three and six flights a day on the route. So far, rival Qantas isn’t being so ambitious. At this point, their flight schedules for April only show about three flights a week.
Either way, it all depends on the two-way travel bubble going ahead as planned in March. Airlines will boost or reduce their schedules between Auckland and Sydney based on that. But given the current situation in both countries, there’s no reason right now why the two-way travel bubble will not get the green light.
If all goes to plan, traffic on the route should soar by April. It’s going to be interesting to watch the uptake of Air New Zealand’s digital travel pass and how “seamless” it makes the travel experience when flying to Sydney.
What do you think? Is Air New Zealand onto a good thing here? Should they expand the trial to include other destinations? Post a comment and let us know.