SEPANG, 5 March 2021: As vaccine programmes roll out and
domestic air travel look set to resume soon, AirAsia joins aviation and tourism
experts in calling for a standardised approach to travel protocols to help
kickstart international air travel revival.

AirAsia Group president airlines, Bo Lingam says:
“Covid-19 has left a severe impact on everyone and particularly on the
travel and hospitality industries. A mutually agreed global framework approach
is needed to resume cross border travel activity. 

He claims travel requirements in the region are currently
complex and uncoordinated, and travel bubbles are limited or unused.

“The travel and tourism industry must work together with one
consistent set of protocols and procedures for guests such as testing and
vaccination requirements, coupled with a mutually agreed common digital health
pass and with the expansion of travel bubbles to include the leisure sector.”

His comments follow a recent AirAsia review of Covid-19
procedures and protocols in regional countries such as  Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, the
Philippines, China and Australia.

It confirmed that existing travel requirements vary across
ASEAN countries, making it challenging and difficult for travellers to
understand and follow.

The different travel protocols across regional countries
also pose operational difficulties for airlines and travel operators. Without
common travel protocols, manual verification of health and travel documents
becomes more time consuming and is prone to error and fraud, especially with an
increase in the use of fake health certification.

“With 40% to 50% of the regional population expected to
be vaccinated by the third quarter of 2021, travel policies should be updated
regularly to reflect the current situation, including the possible removal of
quarantine requirements.

“A good example is in the Philippines, where they have
recently standardised all the travel requirements in the country and removed
the ones that are no longer relevant,” said Bo. 

The report also concluded that travel bubbles were mostly
limited to business and essential travellers only. But business travellers are
less likely to provide a boost to the tourism industry as the majority of
corporate meetings can now be conducted online.

A key recommendation is for the expansion of travel bubbles
for leisure travellers to be implemented in phases starting with destinations
in safe zones.

Travel risk can be minimised through the implementation of
strict Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and various measures, including
point to point controlled travel, fixed itineraries and contact tracing
apps. 

AirAsia recently announced its latest innovation Scan2Fly,
which enables guests to scan and upload their medical documentation during the
online check-in process to confirm they are approved to fly in real-time before
heading to the airport.

Scan2Fly was rolled out ahead of globally approved digital
passports to support AirAsia’s goal of providing a Covid safe and fully
contactless travel experience. Scan2Fly can be seamlessly integrated into other
globally approved platforms from different countries, relating to Covid-19 and
vaccine solutions.

AirAsia is also soon commencing the roll out biometric
facial recognition technology across key ports, launching in Malaysia’s klia2
from April as it continues to develop new products and services to make flying
more hygienic and seamless.