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Hong Kong successfully completes digital health pass trial


In a hugely pioneering initiative, Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has successfully conducted the trial of digital health passes on a flight between Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

It believes the move signifies its commitment to providing a seamless travel experience for passengers under the new normal as a result of COVID-19.

Designed to provide a simple and efficient means of checking and verifying health documents at both ends of a passenger journey, the trial was conducted in conjunction with Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Cathay Pacific, The Commons Project, one of the major digital health pass developers for international travel, and Prenetics, a COVID-19 test provider.

In the trial, Cathay Pacific air crew members role-played as passengers and took the COVID-19 test at HKIA’s testing centre, with their test results sent to their mobile phones in the form of digital health pass which were presented to the airline staff for check-in.

Upon arrival at LAX, the role-playing passengers presented their digital health pass to local staff for validation and entered Los Angeles successfully.

Vivian Cheung, Airport Authority Hong Kong’s executive director of airport operations, said: “As COVID-19 tests and vaccinations are poised to become new essentials for air travellers in the future, a digital solution is required to effectively integrate this new requirement into the existing digitalised travel process, from laboratory to check-in and to landing.

“Resumption of air travel in a safe way is our top priority. Traffic recovery is hard to be sustainable with manual handling of the paper records without error to match the requirements of each country, which could also be changed from time to time.

“We will continue to work with the industry partners including the government of Hong Kong to make HKIA one of the first airports in the world to adopt digital health pass solutions.”

HKIA says that it has been collaborating with major hub airports in the world to facilitate the adoption of digital solutions to tackle challenges such as trustworthiness of paper reports, diversified and dynamic entry requirements across countries and regions, long queues for passengers for document check, and labour intensive checking duties for airline staff.

The CEO of Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), operator of LAX, Justin Erbacci, noted: “At LAWA, we are working closely with our international airport partners to create standardised protocols that will support the safe return to travel.

“We applaud our partners at the Airport Authority Hong Kong for successfully piloting a digital health pass as we work together to embrace innovation and technology that will reimagine air travel in response to the global pandemic.”


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