Private, Verifiable Medical Results Key to Opening Global Travel
New York, NY (Oct. 21, 2020) — In a global initiative to enable safer air and cross-border travel, Internova Travel Group joined The Commons Project Foundation in successfully testing its CommonPass digital health pass for travelers to document their verified COVID-19 test status on a transatlantic flight.
The successful international trial of CommonPass, tested on a flight from London to New York, was led by Internova executives J.D. O’Hara, CEO; Peter Vlitas, Senior Vice President, Airline Relations; Jason Oshiokpekhai, Managing Director, Global Travel Collection (GTC); and Arif Kamal, Director of Revenue Management, GTC. The purpose of the trip was to establish the viability of a verified “digital health pass,” which provides a global framework for lab results and vaccination records to be verified and shared with border control.
Internova has been working closely with The Commons Project and the World Economic Forum to find a long-term solution to replace travel bans and quarantines with the ability to verify individual health and test result data while maintaining privacy standards.
The executives traveled Oct. 21 on United Airlines Flight 15 from London Heathrow to Newark Liberty International Airport. Prior to departure, they downloaded the CommonPass app, answered screening questions and took a COVID-19 test at the airport. A negative test result generated a digital health pass via a QR code, which allowed them to board the flight at London-Heathrow Airport.
“The ability to verify health information in a secure, verified manner will allow countries and regions to open borders and restart the travel industry along with the economic activity that comes with it,” said O’Hara. “This CommonPass pilot demonstrates that we have a means of enabling safer cross-border travel by giving both travelers and governments confidence in the COVID-19 status of every traveler.”
O’Hara said his commitment to finding safer ways to restart travel fueled his interest in participating in the transatlantic trial to experience the viability of the process. He described the experience as “easy to understand, quick and efficient,” adding, “I consider the trial a resounding success and feel sure that travelers will soon have the confidence to get back in the air in a safe and secure manner.”
Paul Meyer, CEO at the Commons Project, stated, “The goal of the trials is to replicate the full traveler experience of taking a test for COVID-19 prior to departure, uploading the result to their phones, and demonstrating their compliance with entry requirements at their departure and destination airports. The digital health pass allows countries and regions seeking ways to ‘thoughtfully reopen’ their borders an alternative to travel bans and quarantines.”
At present, COVID-19 test results for travel are frequently shared on printed paper – or photos of the paper – from unknown labs, often written in languages foreign to those inspecting them.
“It’s critical that we find safe ways to reopen travel. Travel and tourism accounts for 10 percent of global GDP, or nearly $9 trillion. A verifiable and standardized way to share test or vaccine status on an international scale is critical to restoring confidence in our air transportation system,” said Internova’s Vlitas. “The safety of its citizens is paramount to any government’s decision to replace quarantines with testing. We are at a point that effective testing, a reliable medical registry, such as CommonPass, combined with contact tracing done by travel advisors can offer that solution.”
CommonPass adheres to tight privacy principles and is designed to protect personal data in compliance with relevant privacy regulations, including General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
“Without the ability to trust COVID-19 tests – and eventually vaccine records – across international borders, many countries will feel compelled to retain full travel bans and mandatory quarantines for as long as the pandemic persists,” said Dr. Bradley Perkins, Chief Medical Officer of The Commons Project and former Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “With trusted individual health data, countries can implement more nuanced health screening requirements for entry.”
CommonPass and the CommonPass Framework are being launched by the World Economic Forum and The Commons Project, a Swiss-based non-profit foundation building global digital services and platforms for the common good, in collaboration with a broad coalition of public and private partners around the world, including government representatives from 37 countries across six continents. The nonprofit received start-up funding from the Rockefeller Foundation.
The volunteers involved in the United Airlines trial adhered to all entry and testing rules. At London Heathrow, tests from private testing company Prenetics were administered by the travel and medical services firm Collinson in the dedicated COVID-19 testing facilities set up with their partner Swissport.
United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are observing the trials.
About Internova Travel Group
Internova Travel Group is one of the largest travel services companies in the world with a collection of leading brands delivering high-touch, personal travel expertise to leisure and corporate clients. Internova manages leisure, business and franchise firms through a portfolio of distinctive divisions. Internova represents more than 65,000 travel advisors in over 6,000 company-owned and affiliated locations predominantly in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, with a presence in more than 80 countries.