The IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit is the world’s largest gathering of airline leaders.
The 76th AGM, initially scheduled in June in Amsterdam, is held on 24 November 2020, sponsored by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. It is a virtual event.
News from the AGM:
IATA Travel Pass Key to Reopening Borders Safely
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that it is in the final development phase of the IATA Travel Pass, a digital health pass that will support the safe reopening of borders.
Governments are beginning to use testing as a means of limiting the risks of COVID-19 importation when re-opening their borders to travelers without quarantine measures. IATA Travel Pass will manage and verify the secure flow of necessary testing or vaccine information among governments, airlines, laboratories and travelers.
IATA is calling for systematic COVID-19 testing of all international travelers and the information flow infrastructure needed to enable this must support:
- Governments with the means to verify the authenticity of tests and the identity of those presenting the test certificates.
- Airlines with the ability to provide accurate information to their passengers on test requirements and verify that a passenger meets the requirements for travel.
- Laboratories with the means to issue digital certificates to passengers that will be recognized by governments, and;
- Travelers with accurate information on test requirements, where they can get tested or vaccinated, and the means to securely convey test information to airlines and border authorities.
“Today borders are double locked. Testing is the first key to enable international travel without quarantine measures. The second key is the global information infrastructure needed to securely manage, share and verify test data matched with traveler identities in compliance with border control requirements. That’s the job of IATA Travel Pass. We are bringing this to market in the coming months to also meet the needs of the various travel bubbles and public health corridors that are starting operation,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
IATA Travel Pass incorporates four open sourced and interoperable modules which can be combined for an end-to-end solution:
- Global registry of health requirements – enables passengers to find accurate information on travel, testing and eventually vaccine requirements for their journey.
- Global registry of testing / vaccination centers – enables passengers to find testing centers and labs at their departure location which meet the standards for testing and vaccination requirements of their destination.
- Lab App – enables authorized labs and test centers to securely share test and vaccination certificates with passengers.
- Contactless Travel App - enables passengers to (1) create a ‘digital passport’, (2) receive test and vaccination certificates and verify that they are sufficient for their itinerary, and (3) share testing or vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel. This app can also be used by travelers to manage travel documentation digitally and seamlessly throughout their journey, improving travel experience.
IATA and International Airlines Group (IAG) have been working together in the development of this solution and will undertake a trial to demonstrate that this platform combined with COVID-19 testing can reopen international travel and replace quarantine.
The airline industry demands a cost effective, global, and modular solution to safely restart travel. IATA Travel Pass is based on industry standards and IATA’s proven experience in managing information flows around complex travel requirements.
- IATA’s Timatic is used by most airlines to manage compliance with passport and visa regulations and will be the base for the global registry and verification of health requirements.
- IATA’s One IDinitiative was endorsed by a resolution at its 75th Annual General Meeting in 2019 to securely facilitate travel processes with a single identity token. It is the base for the IATA Contactless Travel App for identity verification that will also manage the test and vaccination certificates.
“Our main priority is to get people traveling again safely. In the immediate term that means giving governments confidence that systematic COVID-19 testing can work as a replacement for quarantine requirements. And that will eventually develop into a vaccine program. The IATA Travel Pass is a solution for both. And we have built it using a modular approach based on open source standards to facilitate interoperability. It can be used in combination with other providers or as a standalone end-to-end solution. The most important thing is that it is responsive to industry’s needs while enabling a competitive market,” said Nick Careen, IATA's Senior Vice President, Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security.
The first cross-border IATA Travel Pass pilot is scheduled for later this year and the launch slated for quarter one 2021.
For more information: IATA Travel Pass
View presentation on IATA Travel Pass
Steps Forward for Testing to Reopen Borders Without Quarantine
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomes the publication of the Manual on Testing and Cross Border Risk Management Measures by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). This document provides governments a risk-based assessment tool for using testing programs that could alleviate quarantine requirements.
It is a critical output produced by the ICAO Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA). CAPSCA brings together the expertise of states, public health authorities (World Health Organization/WHO, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) and industry experts (IATA, Airports Council International, International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations).
This encouraging progress follows recent comments from the WHO’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee Chair, Dr. Didier Houssin, who foresees a role for testing as a means of re-opening international travel without quarantine measures. Following the WHO Emergency Committee meeting on 30 October 2020, he said that, “clearly the use of the tests is certainly now supposed to have a much larger place compared to quarantine, for example, which would certainly facilitate things considering all the efforts which have been made by airlines and by airports.”
“Momentum is building in support of our call for systematic testing to safely re-open borders without quarantine measures. ICAO, working with health authorities and industry, has produced a high-level framework. Health authorities are beginning to explore how testing could supersede quarantine to stop the cross-border spread of the virus. Encouraging results from testing pilot programs should now give states the confidence to move forward quickly,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Testing—Efficacy and Performance
Pilot programs for COVID-19 testing of travelers are beginning to produce encouraging results proving their efficacy.
- A study on arriving passengers in Toronto tested passengers three times: on arrival, at day 5 and at day 14. One percent of passengers tested positive over that period, with 70% being detected with the first test. In other words, the study’s results could indicate the potential for about 60 out of every 20,000 travelers to go undetected on arrival, which is significantly lower than the underlying prevalence in Canada.
- A pre-departure testing program for the Milan/Linate-Rome/Fiumicino route detected about 0.8% of passengers with COVID-19. As this level of incidence is considerably higher than the reported prevalence of COVID-19 in Italy at the time, it would appear that not only was testing highly effective in identifying infected travelers but that systematic testing is the best way to detect asymptomatic cases and to break chains of transmission.
- A soon to be published European study is even more optimistic. It models scenarios for a highly effective testing mechanism. In a low prevalence scenario, there is the potential to see the number of undetected positive cases as few as 5 per 20,000 travelers, increasing to 25 in high prevalence situations. These levels of incidence are still much lower than the underlying prevalence of COVID-19 in Europe.
- IATA modeled the testing results to quantify the risk that would remain if systematic pre-departure testing were implemented. Assuming that testing identifies 75% of travelers correctly who have COVID-19 (the effectiveness of the test) from a source population with a prevalence of 0.8% of the population (e.g., similar to Chile), the risk is that 0.06% of passengers would have the disease and go undetected. That would mean 12 undetected positive cases for every 20,000 arriving passengers.
These studies all point in the direction of testing being an efficient means to limit the spread of COVID-19 through air travel. “Data show that systematic testing can reduce the risk of importing COVID-19 through travel to very low levels—not zero, but very low. Certainly in most cases it would reduce risk to levels that mean that arriving passengers are less likely to be infected than the local population and therefore do not add meaningfully to the prevalence of COVID-19 in most places. Efficiency will increase. Advances in technology are happening every day that will improve testing performance,” said de Juniac.
IATA encourages speed and a focus on risk management. “Our mindset must be focused on managing the risks of the virus while maintaining the overall well-being of the population. That would be a shift from current government policies entirely focused on risk elimination until a vaccine is available and at any cost to people’s lives and livelihoods. Even with recent encouraging news, it will be well into 2021 before we can expect large scale vaccination. In the meantime, denying people the freedom of mobility will do irreparable damage to jobs and our way of life. Strategies with risk-based testing offer a pathway which can safely facilitate an economic revival benefitting from the rewards of a re-connected world. Governments could further reduce the risk by investing in effective contact tracing and health monitoring programs to quickly isolate any potential community transmission. And there could even be benefits to controlling the disease by large scale testing of travelers who are not displaying symptoms,” said de Juniac.
Significant advances in testing technology will help governments implement testing for travelers without compromising the availability of tests directly related to the healthcare sector, particularly polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. For testing to be incorporated into the travel process it must be fast, accurate, scalable, easy to use and affordable. While IATA does not recommend a specific test type, laboratory reported accuracy for the rapid antigen test (RAT) does meet the aforementioned criteria. The Oxford/Public Health England study indicates 99.6% specificity along with very high sensitivity for RAT.
Testing is supported by travelers. An IATA survey revealed that 83% of people would not travel if it required quarantine. It also showed that some 88% of travelers would be willing to be tested if it enabled travel. The same survey also revealed that 65% believe that quarantine should not be necessary if someone tests negative for COVID-19. “Public opinion supports COVID-19 testing. They see it as a far better option compared to quarantine which kills travel. And they feel comfortable that if you are tested and found negative you don’t need to quarantine,” said de Juniac.
Global standards are needed to transform the many testing pilots and “bubbles” into a global re-start of international flying. To support this IATA is developing:
- A practical implementation guide for the Manual on Testing and Cross Border Risk Management Measures
- The IATA Travel Pass to manage COVID-19 test certifications, one of several solutions in development to help manage testing certifications. IATA welcomes the evolution of a competitive market for these solutions that should be cost-effective, global, accurate and interoperable.
IATA urges quick action by governments working with industry to implement a globally harmonized and systematic approach to COVID-19 testing in the travel process.
Travel essentially remains in lockdown. Each day that this situation is prolonged puts more jobs at risk and makes the road to recovery that much more difficult.
Implementation of a globally harmonized systematic testing regime for international travel would complement measures already well established to keep travelers safe. In June, ICAO published Take-off: Guidance for Air Travel through the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis which calls on governments to implement a multi-layered approach to sanitary measures throughout the travel process. Mask-wearing is especially key to the Take-off requirements with a strong consensus among recently published studies of air travel and COVID-19 pointing toward the very low risk of inflight transmission (Harvard, TRANSCOM).
“Safety is at the core of aviation. This crisis has only reinforced that commitment. There has been an inspiring effort by governments, public health authorities and aviation entities to ensure safe operations even during this pandemic. ICAO’s Take-off guidelines are practical measures to deliver a safe public health environment from check-in to arrival. And the many advances on testing, including ICAO’s guidance, are what is needed to open borders while minimizing the risk of COVID-19 importation,” said de Juniac.
View the presentation on Testing and Safely Reopening Borders
IATA DG to Step Down
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO will step down from his role at the Association effective 31 March 2021.
De Juniac made known his intention to step down from the Association several months ago which enabled a search process to facilitate a smooth leadership transition. The IATA Board of Governors will recommend to the 76th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 24 November 2020 the appointment of Willie Walsh, former CEO of International Airlines Group (IAG) to become IATA’s eighth Director General from 1 April 2021.
“I did not come to this decision lightly. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve the global air transport industry—what I call the business of freedom—as the head of IATA. Over the last years IATA has strategically increased its relevance as the voice of the global airline industry. This has been evident in the COVID-19 crisis. IATA has set the course to restore air connectivity amid the pandemic with systematic pre-departure testing. We are well into preparations to fulfil critical vaccine distribution needs. In parallel, we have restructured IATA to survive the crisis and be ready to support the industry recovery with an organization dimensioned to serve a smaller industry. And we have a motivated team that is determined to get the job done. The building blocks for an industry recovery are in place. And now is the right time to hand over IATA’s leadership for the long process of recovery,” said de Juniac.
De Juniac joined IATA in September 2016 from Air France-KLM where he was Chairman and CEO.
“Alexandre has led our industry in extraordinary times. Under his leadership IATA has become a stronger and an even more relevant organization. I am joined by all the members of the Board of Governors in thanking him for his service and wishing him well in his next endeavors. I am also pleased that we are able to present a very capable candidate to the 76th IATA AGM to succeed Alexandre in this important role. I am convinced that Willie will be a great Director General for IATA,” said Carsten Spohr, Chair of the IATA Board of Governors and CEO of Lufthansa.
Resolutions will be presented to the 76th IATA AGM thanking de Juniac for his service to IATA as Director General and CEO and proposing Walsh as the next IATA Director General.A DG to Step Down