BA rolls out digital vaccine passports as boss calls for unrestricted travel
British Airways (BA) will introduce digital global vaccine passports in time for the planned re-opening of international travel from 17 May.
BA, owned by International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG.L), will ask people who received their two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to log their details with their BA app, to prove that they are save to fly.
Additionally, BA’s boss has also called for unrestricted travel for those who have been vaccinated and for non-vaccinated people with a negative coronavirus test as the industry gears up for overseas travel to recommence.
The calls come a few months ahead of the government’s timetable.
While prime minister Boris Johnson has said that foreign travel can resume no sooner than 17 May (depending on daily data and the success of the vaccine programme) before then on 12 April, a taskforce will produce a report, which will recommend how international trips can resume for people in England.
Sean Doyle, who was appointed CEO in October, called on the UK to work with other governments to allow vaccines and health apps to help open up an industry which has been grounded for almost a year.
The aviation sector has said that health apps will be key to facilitating travel at scale. Airline workers may become overwhelmed once large numbers of passengers return, as checking paperwork could take time. As such he wants the government to back health apps that can be used to verify an individuals negative COVID-19 test result and vaccination status, to speed up things.
“I think people who’ve been vaccinated should be able to travel without restriction. Those who have not been vaccinated should be able to travel with a negative test result,” Doyle said.
Doyle added that he is optimistic that the roll-out of vaccines will boost the aviation sector which has been on life support, but everything lingers on what the UK government announces on 12 April.
So far, the UK has rapidly rolled out vaccinations and 44% of the adult population, mostly people over 60, have now had their first jab. Meanwhile, 48,000 business in Britain have also signed up for rapid workplace testing as the the country eases back into “normality”
The news comes as the British flag carrier is mulling deploying some of its bigger planes to add capacity for an anticipated post-pandemic holiday rush as the UK eases out of lockdown.
As a response, BA could divert some of its jets used on long-haul routes to short-haul destinations as demand for European trips from the UK increases.
Popular holiday destinations such as Greece and Spain are gearing up to open for European holidaymakers from mid-May, according to Bloomberg. This could see a spike in bookings and make the usage of the bigger aircraft financially viable.
Currently, many of BA’s B787s and A350s along with other planes including B777s are remaining idle while international travel remains restricted, unless necessary.
“We keep our operation under constant review,” a spokesman for British Airways said.
Airlines and travel firms have seen a bump in demand since Johnson proposed a four-step roadmap out of lockdown, last month.