Vaccine passports under consideration for business trips but survey finds executives may travel less

Tue 23 Feb 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

business travel

With 21 June pinpointed by the government as a possible date for a return to normalcy in the UK, what are the chances of business travel becoming a part of traders’ lives again?

According to figures from the International Air Transport Association, demand for air travel has plummeted nearly 70% in 2020 compared to 2019.

Vaccine passports

As vaccination levels ramp up in developed nations including the UK, a race is on to find ways of verifying whether passengers have taken the required Covid-19 tests or vaccines for entering different countries.

IATA says it expects to have a digital ‘Covid Travel Pass’ ready “within weeks”, according to the BBC.

IATA sees the pass, which will be available on iOS and Android platforms, as essential for reopening air travel as many countries continue to impose strict restrictions or quarantines.

First users

Business Travel News reports that Etihad and Emirates will be among the first users of the IATA digital health passport.

Etihad – which last summer implemented mandatory Covid-19 testing for passengers flying to or transferring through Abu Dhabi – will use the IATA Travel Pass to receive passengers' Covid-19 test results in advance and verify that they are eligible to travel.

Other airlines also trialling the pass include Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Air New Zealand.

Competing offers

Other companies are also developing vaccine passport apps, Business Travel News reports.

The ICC AOKpass app – developed by Singapore-based start-ups AOKpass and the International Chamber of Commerce – uses blockchain technology to store a digital verification of medical certificates and PCR test results.

The CommonPass platform developed by the World Economic Forum is to be used on five airlines including United Airlines, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, Swiss International Air Lines and JetBlue.

Less travel

 Consultancy firm Oliver Wyman’s second Traveller Sentiment Survey looked at some of the changes that will result from the last year of global lockdowns.

It found that 43% of business travellers polled expected to travel less for business even after Covid-19 subsides. 

Zooming in

The survey found there were two major reasons for the anticipated change in behaviour, according to Forbes.

Safety and health concerns were cited by over a third (34%) of respondents as the main factor, while 31% said teleconferencing and remote working arrangements were as effective as being in the office and traveling. 

Oliver Wyman expects a long-term contraction of as much as 10% in business travel overall and predicted that business travel will remain depressed through 2023.

Exit strategy

As part of its roadmap out of lockdown, announced by Boris Johnson yesterday, the government revealed that foreign holidays will not be possible until at least 17 May.

Most business travel is currently prohibited, except for very specific situations, the government has ruled.

Lifting restrictions

A government review will investigate how restrictions could be lifted through vaccine certificates and testing for both inbound and outbound travellers.

According to the Telegraph, the current raft of restrictions on international travel – including triple testing of passengers, quarantine hotels, and ten-day mandatory quarantine – will remain in place until mid-May.