Time spent in airports could reach 8 hours per trip without global vaccine passport

UK government criticised by Mullins over vaccine passports

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IATA said that before the Covid-19 pandemic, passengers spent an average of 1.5 hours in airport processes including check-in, security, border control, customs and baggage claim. Recent data shows that airport times have increased to three hours, having travel volumes of only about a third than pre-Covid-19.

The greatest increases in time have been at check-in desks and passport control where, at the moment, travel health credentials like Covid-19 tests or passenger locator forms are being checked manually as paper documents.

If the system doesn’t change, the time spent at the airport could reach from five hours to eight hours per trip.

IATA director, Willie Walsh, said: “Without an automated solution for Covid-19 checks, we can see the potential for significant airport disruptions on the horizon.

“Already, average passenger processing and waiting times have doubled from what they were pre-crisis during peak time – reaching an unacceptable three hours.

“And that is with many airports deploying pre-crisis level staffing for a small fraction of pre-crisis volumes.

“Nobody will tolerate waiting hours at check-in or for border formalities.

“We must automate the checking of vaccine and test certificates before traffic ramps up.

“The technical solutions exist.

“But governments must agree digital certificate standards and align processes to accept them.

“And they must act fast.”

Over the last years, self-service e-gates were put in place in order to speed up the border control process using digital identity technology.

Passengers were used to quickly go through passport control and their time spent at the airport was considerably reduced.

Now, paper-based Covid-19 document checks, manual check-in and border control processes have led to an increase in time.

According to IATA, the only solution is for Governments to integrate all Covid-19 requirements into a digital certificate for both Covid-19 testing and vaccine certificates.

However, it explained that this would have to be globally recognised and standardised.

Spain and other EU countries are going to begin a “digital green pass” trial on June 7.

The certificate will hold information regarding whether or not a traveller has had one or two of their vaccines.

It will also show testing history, as well as whether or not a person has previously contracted and recovered from COVID-19.

Although people in the UK can now use the NHS app to show they’ve had the Covid vaccine, many countries will require other paperwork on arrival, like proof of Covid-19 negative tests and arrivals form.

As well as when coming back to the UK, when a COVID-19 test and passenger locator form has to be shown.

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