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THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE

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1040 Abroad

New App Tested on Transatlantic Flight

The new app, CommonsPass, has been tested on a flight from London Heathrow to Newark Airport in New York, which could help to re-open flights between the US and UK

Published on October 23, 2020

CommonsPass Jason Oshiokpekhai, Managing Director, Global Travel Collection, holds up the unique QR code on the CommonPass health pass. Photo: BusinessWire

A new app has been tested on board a Transatlantic flight between London and New York, in a project which could help to open up travel between the UK and US amidst ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

The trial took place on United Airlines Flight 15 from London Heathrow to Newark Airport on Wednesday, and allowed passengers to share their Covid-19 test status across borders using an app called CommonPass Digital Health Pass. The app uses a trust framework, and is designed to replace existing methods of Covid-19 test documentation which can be unverified, from unknown locations and written in multiple languages. The trial, which has been described as successful, was observed at Newark Airport by the CDC and the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) service.

Discussing the trial, Dr. Bradley Perkins, Chief Medical Officer of The Commons Project, one of the organizations involved in the app, explained that "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. 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, added that "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. CommonPass, along with other critical measures such as a standardised international testing protocol, is key to reviving the seriously ailing global Travel & Tourism sector."

John Holland Kaye, CEO at Heathrow airport, has been a prominent advocate of increased testing to re-open air routes. Reacting to the trial, Kaye remarked that "It is vital that the benefits of aviation take off again and where better to start than with a connection from Heathrow, into New York."

Lauren Uppink Calderwood, Head of Aviation, Travel and Tourism at the World Economic Forum, another organization involved in the app, focused on the issue of trust in international testing, saying that "Safe border reopening will not be possible without mutual trust and recognition between countries of testing results and vaccine record. The CommonPass framework enables this layer of trust while reducing potential fraud and ensuring the privacy of user data."

The news follows suggestions that a London-New York route could be re-open in time for the Holidays.

For more details on CommonPass, go to the thecommonsproject.org/commonpass.

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