The European Union faces a tough task in seeking to introduce so-called Covid-19 passports by June to get people traveling again, according to the owner of France’s busiest airport.
The slow progress and uncoordinated roll-out of health passes already under development at airlines and other companies suggest the bloc’s target is “very, very ambitious,” Franck Le Gall, operations chief at Groupe ADP, which runs dozens of hubs including Paris-Charles de Gaulle, said in an interview.
The EU’s executive arm this week cleared the way for the introduction of a Digital Green Certificate providing proof that holders have been vaccinated, recovered from the coronavirus or recently tested negative. The passes are meant to facilitate trips both inside and outside the bloc, striking a balance between tourism-dependent states eager to reopen their borders and countries like France and Germany that have adopted a more cautious stance.
Read more: EU Vaccine Passports for Travel Are Months Away, Memo Shows
The move comes just as numerous mobile application-based systems are already in the pipeline, including the International Air Transport Association’s Travel Pass, the AOKpass from travel-security firm International SOS, Daon’s VeriFly and the World Economic Forum-backed CommonPass.
A meeting of European airports this week concluded that “studying options needs to end to make way for testing on the ground,” Le Gall said. Trials are underway in a handful of cities including Paris, London and Rome.
It’s vital that the passes provide strict data protection, are easily modifiable to take account of changing rules, and permit scans to be completed in just a few seconds with the same equipment used to check boarding passes, Le Gall said.
“We are agnostic on the different passes but among our criteria is that they are inter-operable so our personnel don’t need to use five different scanning systems,” he said.
Emmanuelle Ferracci, who is heading an Air France trial of the AOKpass at the CDG hub, said in an interview that the verification process must be simple and quick or customers will face “huge bottlenecks at airports.”
The AOKpass was tested for the first time this week on Los Angeles and San Francisco services and flights to the Caribbean. Staff had to resort to opening the app on a smart device during a demonstration Thursday to verify test results for passengers from California, a system Le Gall said wouldn’t work when airports get busier.