Ethiopian Airlines first to launch the #IATA Travel Pass trials in #Africa

#COVID19 TEST ARE NOW AVAILABLE AT ADDIS ABABA’S BOLE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

(Posted 25th April 2021)

Ethiopian Airlines has confirmed that they have, in partnership with BGI Genomics Co. of China, established a fully fledged test facility at their main hub in Addis Ababa.

The testing center is opened to revitalize the passengers’ business by creating seamless travel experience that includes COVID-19 testing to passengers that are departing or transiting via Addis Ababa.

The state-of-the-art COVID-19 testing lab is equipped with cutting-edge technologies to provide quick and accurate testing for passengers. Currently, the lab has a capacity to carry out 1,000 COVID-19 tests a day with a potential to grow further after expansion.

Regular test results can be obtained within three hours, leading to a convenient travel arrangement by reducing waiting time for testing and result collection.

Ethiopian Airports CEO Mr. Eskinder Alemu said “We introduced the testing lab inside our hub at Addis Ababa with a view to address our customers’ challenges in travel and revive the passenger service. Originating or transit passengers will no longer have to look for testing centers in the city and wait in lines for COVID- 19 testing. The lab at the airport eliminates the hassle for testing and brings convenience and helps restore passengers’ confidence in travel. The facility is the outcome of the excellent partnership between Ethiopia’s flag carrier and the BGI Health Ethiopia towards ensuring the safety of passengers in line with all international requirements. We will continue to adapt our operations to the new normal so as to ensure customers’ safe travel with Ethiopian.”

Further to significantly reducing the time and energy spent for testing, the launch of the testing center at the airport will elevate Ethiopian’s customer service and consolidate the airlines’ safety measures at the airport and onboard.
Timeliness of COVID 19 test results has been an issue of concern for passengers who wish to transit or extend their stay in Ethiopia and the provision of testing at the airport simplifies customers journey with Ethiopian. The laboratory performs RT-PCR and IgM antibody tests for COVID-19 to departing, arriving and transit passengers with high level of efficiency in delivering the results. As a result, Ethiopian hopes to see a revival of passenger traffic following the move.

Meanwhile airline, has Ethiopian Airlines become the first African airline to
conduct trial of IATA Travel Pass, a digital travel mobile app to enhance efficiency in testing or vaccine verifications. As travel restarts, travelers need accurate COVID-19-related information like testing and vaccine requirements which vary among countries. The IATA Travel Pass initiative helps verify the authenticity of test information presented by travelers which is essential for
ensuring the safety of passengers while complying with entry requirements of countries.

The trial will be conducted on flights out of Addis Ababa to Washington DC and Toronto as well as on flights out of London and Toronto to Addis Ababa, effective 25 April 2021. Ethiopian has gone digital in all of its operations to avoid physical contact and combat the spread of the pandemic and now, embarks on this initiative which will allow passengers to relish unparalleled flight experience.

Regarding the trial of the IATA travel pass, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines said “Digital technology is vital to solve many of the problems that arise from the pandemic. We are glad that we are offering new digital opportunities to our passengers so as to fully and safely restart air travel. Our customers will enjoy efficient, contactless and safer travel experience with their travel pass digital passport. As a safety first airline, we have become the first African airline to trail IATA’s travel pass initiative to facilitate travel. The new initiative will increase travelers’ confidence in travel, encourages governments to reopen their borders and expedites industry restart.’’

Nick Careen, IATA Senior Vice President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security said, “Ethiopian Airlines is once again showing its leadership position in Africa becoming the first carrier to implement a live trial of IATA Travel Pass. The trial will help build confidence among governments and travelers that digital health apps can safely, securely and conveniently help restart aviation. The app gives travelers a one-stop-shop to help them comply with the new rules for travel. And for governments complete assurance in the identity of the passenger and the authenticity of the travel credentials being presented. We urge Governments in Africa to accelerate the acceptance of digital health credentials for travel across the continent.”

The Travel Pass will help create a digital passport, receive test and vaccination certificates and verify that they are sufficient for their route, and share testing or vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel. The digital travel app will also avoid fraudulent documentation and make air travel more convenient.

It is understood that other airlines in East Africa were also keen to join the IATA initiative but that, according to feedback received by www.ATCNews.org the respective governments were not ready to provide changed health and safety regulations, a requirement to commence IATA Travel Pass trials.

Countries like Uganda and Kenya for instance do not recognize full vaccinated travelers and still demand a PCR test from them but are under pressure from their respective airlines to take a leap of faith and lead from the front in adopting the latest global suggestions from IATA and ICAO in order to kickstart their tourism sectors which for now remain depressed.

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