A new app could open the way to bringing back international travel. CommonPass is a digital health pass launched by the World Economic Forum and The Commons Project Foundation—a Swiss-based nonprofit organization that builds digital services for the common good—and it’s hard to find anything but the good in reopening international travel.
CommonPass is a simple solution for both travelers and border officials to bring travel back in a safe and secure way. The app keeps traveler information safely and securely, and test results can easily be shared with officials to show compliance with domestic or international entry requirements.
Paul Meyer, CEO of the Commons Project, heralded the app as a “concrete tool” that can “get the world to connect again.”
The app has now successfully debuted on flights with Cathay Pacific and, most recently, United Airlines, which just trialed CommonPass on a flight from London Heathrow to Newark Liberty International Airport.
Travelers arrived at the airport, checked into their flights, went to the testing facility and scanned their CommonPass. They then scanned the barcode of the test. Negative test results were stored in the app which is then scanned and displayed during boarding.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) observed the CommonPass demonstration in Newark and were pleased with its rollout.
“The COVID pandemic has brought down travel and tourism across the board,” said Troy Miller, Director, Field Operations New York, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). “CBP is happy to observe the efforts and be a part of the solution to build confidence in air travel and are encouraged by this CommonPass pilot.”
Passengers onboard were also comforted by the knowledge that everyone on their flight had been tested for COVID-19 and had negative results.
“This was a historic event in the sense that, as a user, I knew everyone just tested negative on my flight,” said volunteer traveler Peter Vlitas, senior vice president, airline relations for Internova.
Dr. Bradley Perkins, chief medical officer of the Commons Project and former chief strategy and innovation officer at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that this type of system is needed to restore traveler confidence.
“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 Perkins. “With trusted individual health data, countries can implement more nuanced health screening requirements for entry.”
Gloria Guevera, president and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council, lauded the app as another way to bring travel back sooner rather than later.
“We are encouraged by the successful trial of CommonPass, and I am excited to be able to be here at London Heathrow to witness such a historic event,” Guevera said. “CommonPass, along with other critical measures such as a standardized international testing protocol, is key to reviving the seriously ailing global travel and tourism sector.”
The next steps will be to roll CommonPass out more widely within the industry.
“Following these successful trials with Cathay Pacific and United Airlines, we begin the rollout of CommonPass with more of the world’s largest airlines,” said Meyer. “In November and December, we will launch routes across Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East.”
CommonPass is not limited to air travel only. The capability can be utilized across industries to safely open up borders.
“Safe border reopening will not be possible without mutual trust and recognition between countries of testing results and vaccine records,” said Lauren Uppink Calderwood, Head of Aviation, Travel and Tourism at the World Economic Forum. “The CommonPass framework enables this layer of trust while reducing potential fraud and ensuring the privacy of user data.”