‘Global Covid-19 passport’ will be ‘essential’ in restoring international travel, Philippines airline CEO says

©  AFP / Ted Aljibe


The head of a budget airline based in the Philippines has argued that proof of coronavirus vaccination is necessary to reopen borders to international visitors, echoing calls for a Covid-19 ‘passport’ from others in the industry.

Cebu Pacific President and CEO Lance Gokongwei said such identification would be “essential” once his company resumes international flights. He said that the creation of a globally-recognized Covid-19 passport would be “absolutely necessary” in order to reboot tourism and international travel.

I think we have to work on a global Covid passport, so that each country respects the passport and recognizes that if you do have this Covid passport, that you have already been vaccinated by a credible vaccination source.

Noting the mass inoculation programs being introduced around the world, the CEO said that the “number one priority” is to “get vaccines in the hands in as much of the global population as possible, and then connecting this to a Covid passport.”

Gokongwei is far from the first to float the controversial idea of an official Covid-19 vaccination ID. Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was exploring the possible benefits of “e-vaccination certificates” for international travelers, but advised countries against issuing “immunity passports” for those who have recovered from coronavirus.

Among airlines, there appears to be a growing consensus that some form of identification proving vaccination against Covid-19 will be required for international travel. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a lobby group that represents airlines worldwide, announced in November that it was developing a mobile app to help passengers show they are Covid-free, in anticipation of such documentation becoming mandatory. British Airways parent IAG SA will participate in a test program using the app by the end of the year, and the digital certificate is expected to be released for Apple and Android devices in the first months of 2021.

Australia’s Qantas Airways has already signaled that it will require proof of Covid-19 vaccination for international travel, and has expressed interest in adopting the mobile app being created by the IATA.

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