‘Vaccine stamps’ in passports could be provided to British travellers who have been inoculated against Covid-19.
Tourists would then avoid being held up at borders if the international travel industry starts to pick up in the middle of next year as the pandemic subsides.
The stamps are being considered by ministers at the Department for Transport as a method to boost the aviation industry by giving a degree of certainty to travellers planning overseas holidays next summer, The Telegraph reported.
Qantas’ chief executive Alan Joyce last week said it would be a “necessity” for passengers to be inoculated before travelling.
The airline’s terms and conditions of travel could now be amended to say that international travellers must be vaccinated before they can take a Qantas flight.
A Korean Air spokesperson also said there was a real possibility that airlines will require passengers to be vaccinated because governments may require this as a condition for lifting quarantine for arrivals. Air New Zealand echoed a similar position.
Vaccine stamps as proof of being vaccinated were raised last week by Tory MP James Sunderland who asked the prime minister, whether he had considered “the utility of having vaccination stamps in passports, or an equivalent scheme, to get our plans off the ground”.
Boris Johnson replied that his transport secretary Grant Shapps was “looking at all such schemes” and could offer an assurance that he had heard the call “loud and clear”.
Sources confirmed that the stamps were being examined at the DfT, where aviation minister Robert Courts was said to be “upbeat and supportive” of the plan.
Sunderland told the newspaper: “Pets need a vaccination passport when travelling between the UK and Europe and this would be a fantastic way of ensuring freedom of movement for people too.
“We must do everything possible to boost the economy by re-opening our travel, hospitality, leisure and business sectors and how fantastic would it be to have our planes, trains and boats full again.
“A vaccination stamp is simple, would save all the hassle at either end and really boost confidence.”
Iata is in the latter stages of preparing a digital travel pass that would function as a way of guaranteeing the Covid-19 status of passengers. The solution is being developed in conjunction with British Airways owner International Airlines Group.
The first cross-border Iata Travel Pass pilot is due by the end of the year with a launch planned for the first quarter of 2021.
Director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac, said that this was the best method of resuming travel in a way that would enable different countries to decide on their own requirements
He said: “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 traveller 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.”
Iata airport, passenger, cargo and security senior vice president Nick Careen added: “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 programme.
“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.”