SINGAPORE - Budget carrier Scoot is the latest airline to trial digital verification of Covid-19 test results, as the aviation industry ramps up preparations for the gradual reopening of borders.
Scoot is also trialling an online portal that lets customers departing on flights from Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong book pre-departure Covid-19 tests more conveniently.
Its parent carrier Singapore Airlines (SIA) had earlier started trials for both initiatives.
Scoot said in a statement on Wednesday (March 17) that the two initiatives being tested will complement each other.
It said the portal - which can be accessed via the Scoot website or mobile app - links customers to accredited partner clinics for the Covid-19 tests. It will let them pay for the tests and get a digital certificate within 36 hours.
Covid-19 test results obtained through the portal will have QR codes that can then be verified by an app from Temasek-founded company Affinidi.
Explaining the verification process, Scoot said: "By scanning the QR code with a secure app, check-in agents are able to quickly and reliably determine the authenticity of digital or printed Covid-19 test results bearing a verifiable QR code, issued by selected clinics.
"This will in turn shorten the time required for customers to complete the check-in process, thereby improving their travel experience."
Scoot said it has trialled the digital health verification process at check-in for six flights in the past week, including flights to Penang and Bangkok.
It has also trialled the process for inbound flights from Penang and Surabaya.
Scoot will conduct further trials on the TR431 flight that will leave for Singapore from Kuching on March 21, as well as the TR485 flight that will fly in from Ipoh on March 28.
Scoot chief executive Campbell Wilson said the trials will support the gradual reopening of borders by contributing to safeguards to limit the spread of Covid-19.
The carrier, like all other airlines worldwide, had been floored by the impact of the pandemic.
It ferried just 8,000 passengers in February 2021, a 98.8 per cent drop from the 666,200 passengers ferried in February 2020.
Aviation analyst Shukor Yusof of Endau Analytics said the ability to verify a traveller's health records is crucial for airlines as they await the recovery of air travel.
"The future of air travel hinges on carriers ensuring passengers are not infected while on board," said Mr Shukor.
But he said efforts made by various airlines worldwide to develop their own verification process was "a haphazard approach".
"It's unfortunate there are many methods of verification, which will lead to misunderstanding and mistrust," said Mr Shukor.
"The ideal outcome is a universally accepted practice and standard, where one app is accepted globally, like the yellow fever passport."