France Plans Talks on U.S. Flights as It Trials Vaccine Passport
By Tara Patel
April 27, 2021, 7:54 AM EDT Updated on April 27, 2021, 9:31 AM EDT
Country is first in EU to have developed working system
Minister also held bilateral discussions on travel with U.K.
France said it’s moving toward a rollout of so-called vaccine passports aimed a jump-starting travel as trials start on internal flights, while planning discussions on the reopening of trans-Atlantic services.
The country’s year-old Covid-19 tracing app has been equipped with a new function to host virus test results and inoculation records and is being deployed on short-haul services between Paris and the Mediterranean island of Corsica, French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said Tuesday.
Talks have been held with the U.K. on bilateral travel arrangements and discussions with the U.S. will be next, Djebbari said in a briefing at the capital’s Orly airport, with France targeting “a return to normal of flights in the next weeks and months.”
The country is the first in the European Union to have a system up and running as part of the bloc’s plan to introduce region-wide “digital green certificates” by mid-June.
The French app already has about 15 million users, a greater reach than others being tested in the region such as the AOKpass, CommonPass and International Air Transport Association Travel Pass.
The French trial will be extended to Air France-KLM flights to overseas territories next week and then to some neighboring countries, Djebbari said.
The system will allow the uploading of laboratory test results and vaccine records from France’s centralized health-care system, building on the country’s existing “TousAntiCovid” contact-tracing app.
Djebbari’s comments on looming talks with the U.S. come after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the New York Times that the EU plans to open its doors to American tourists who’ve been fully vaccinated.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the situation regarding European flights is under constant review but that there’s no immediate update. A decision will be “based on the advice of our health and medical team,” she said.
Djebbari said the French app will also limit fraud and hasten trips through airports. Though there are no plans to utilize it for activities such as dining and shopping, the government is studying its use at events like concerts, conferences and festivals.
Global Travel Braces for Vaccine-Fueled Boost as Rules are Eased
France is readying to lift lockdown restrictions next week that have kept people close to their homes for nearly a month. Within Europe, Greece has already started easing travel with some countries including those within the EU, with a full lifting of restrictions for international tourists set for May 15.
Germany, the EU’s biggest economy, has yet to detail how it will roll out a digital health certificate. Berlin’s Mayor Michael Mueller said Monday the country is still working on a system developed by a consortium led by International Business Machines Corp. that should be available from June.