New Covid-19 travel pass to test in South Africa – what you need to know


Private southern African airline Airlink will become the first carrier in South Africa to test the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Pass.

The Travel Pass is a digital smartphone app that allows passengers to provide accurate information about their Covid-19 health status and access entry requirements for any country they intend to visit.

This is distinct from digital Covid-19 certificate that the government plans to use at the national level.

Airlink said the test will be carried out on AirLink’s flights between South Africa and Namibia in November 2021. The airline operates flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Windhoek and Walvis Bay.

The IATA Travel Pass is being developed to support the reopening of borders without quarantine and a safe restart of international aviation and tourism. It is considered to be more secure and efficient than the current paper-based processes used to manage healthcare requirements.

In Airlink’s testing, the IATA Travel Pass will confirm, before departure, that passengers meet the Covid-19 test requirements to travel with Airlink on flights between South Africa and Namibia.

Airlink customers traveling on these routes will be able to download the IATA Travel Pass application from the Apple Store or from google play. Currently, it can only be used when traveling with airlines participating in the trials.

As this is a test and subject to adjustments, passengers should always take printed copies of their negative Covid-19 PCR test results with them during their trip, Airlink said.

“The adoption of secure digital health solutions such as the IATA Travel Pass to verify Covid-19 test and vaccination certificates as well as relevant entry requirements is urgently required to remove the uncertainty that currently deters international air travel and, by extension, business, commerce, tourism and the creation of desperately needed jobs across southern Africa, ”said Rodger Foster, Chief Executive Officer of AirLink.

Updated Lockdown Travel Rules

The trial of the new IATA pass comes after the government eased flight restrictions for South Africans this week.

In particular, national airline operators are authorized to provide prepackaged catering on board planes, but must take into account all health measures related to Covid-19.

Airlines may also make available free magazines, which passengers should pick up when entering the plane. Passengers are not allowed to share these magazines.

For international travel, a traveler must provide a valid certificate with a negative Covid-19 test result, recognized by the World Health Organization or equivalent local accredited authority, obtained no later than 72 hours before the date of travel.

Regular international flights and charter flights carrying passengers are permitted at the following airports:

  • OR Tambo International Airport;
  • King Shaka International Airport;
  • Cape Town International Airport
  • Lanseria International Airport;
  • Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport.

Departures and landings of long-haul flights at the airports listed above are permitted during curfew hours. However, passengers are required to present a valid boarding pass if they are stopped by law enforcement.

Read: Updated Level 1 lockdown rules for schools and travel in South Africa

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