Airlines see ‘hassle-free’ travel with COVID-19 passports

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 22) — The Air Carriers Association of the Philippines is supporting the idea of having COVID-19 passports, saying they will facilitate the “hassle-free” travel of people already vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“It’s going to be smooth and at the same time contactless,” ACAP chairman and AirAsia Philippines CEO Ricky Isla told CNN Philippines’ Front and Center.

Isla said the passport could contain all relevant passenger information, including any vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results, allowing swift entry in travel destinations amid varying rules of local government units.

“Local government units will be able to understand better and at the same time, implement uniform guidelines,” Isla said.

Early this month, Cebu Pacific President and CEO Lance Gokongwei said in a Malacañang press briefing that a “global COVID passport” will help the tourism industry bounce back from the coronavirus crisis in 2022.

A bill has already been filed in the House of Representatives seeking the issuance of vaccine passports as a means of identifying those already inoculated against COVID-19. The proposed Vaccine Passport Act mandates concerned government agencies to "coordinate and provide for a single internationally-recognized vaccine passport to serve as proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19."

The government is eyeing to vaccinate at least 60 million Filipinos starting next year, a program that may last for three to five years. The country has so far secured 2.6 million doses of AztraZeneca’s vaccines through a private sector donation and expects to receive 30 million doses more from Novavax.

The coronavirus has infected more than 462,000 people in the country and over 77 million worldwide.

The International Air Transport Association has also been pushing for a digital "travel pass" as documentary proof a person has been vaccinated. Similarly in Europe, Hungary and Iceland have considered the “immunity passport” policy, wherein visitors can enter their borders if they can provide evidence they've recovered from the coronavirus disease.

Catch the full interview on CNN Philippines’ Front and Center on Wednesday, December 23, at 7:00 p.m.