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African Union Approves Post-Coronavirus Air Travel System
After a year of COVID-19 restrictions, the world is slowly starting to open up and airlines are preparing for a travel boom later this year. However, due to new virus strains and slow vaccination rates in some countries, the airline industry needs a way to effectively and efficiently coordinate travel and health screenings. Africa, in particular, has ratified a Trusted Travel program that is run by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). All 54 African Union (AU) countries approved the program, which is aimed at helping African airlines strategically plan and build their post-pandemic network.
African Union Trusted Traveler Program
The African Union (AU) has developed a travel program that will make it easy for passengers to upload vaccine documents or COVID-19 test results or research country entry requirements. It was created by the African Union under a public-private partnership between PanaBIOS Consoritum and Econet Group and launched in October 2020. However, it was not used until January 2021 when Kenya became the first nation to use the system.
According to Routesonline, the goal of the Trusted Traveler program is to restore travel, trade, tourism and investment in African countries and enable the cooperation between nations to make travel simpler.
The Africa CDC explained the program, saying, “The African Union Commission and Arica Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) launched the Saving Lives, Economies and Livelihoods campaign to promote hassle-free travel across Africa while, at the same time, preventing cross-border spread of COVID-19 infection. Together with its partners, African Union and Africa CDC are providing this #TrustedTravel, My COVID Pass tool to simplify verification of public health documentation for travellers during exit and entry across borders.”
In addition, in a statement to Aviation Week Network, a PanaBIOS Consortium spokesperson said, “Trusted Travel has already been adopted via the AU’s decision-making processes by the 54 countries in Africa. 49 have provided the necessary inputs to configure their exit and entry rules into the digital platform. However, some pioneering countries like Kenya have gone further to make the system mandatory for all outbound and inbound travel. Several more countries are due to announce similar measures in coming weeks.”
Part of the AU’s goal in creating the Trusted Travel program was to bring in partner airlines to help simplify travel. So far, Ethiopian Airlines, EgyptAir and Kenya Airways have signed up as partners, all of which operate in major travel hubs in Africa. Meanwhile, some African airlines are opting to use the IATA Travel Pass. For example, RwandaAir is the first to trial the program, which will involved a three-week trial period in April for flights between Kigali, Rwanda and Nairobi, Kenya.
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