The head of Australia’s flag carrier said pre-flight vaccination was now a “necessity” and that the airline was currently examining ways to include the requirement in its terms and conditions.
The decision does not for the time being apply to domestic flights.
“Whether you need that domestically, we will have to see what happens with Covid-19 in the market. But certainly, for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country, we think that’s a necessity,” he said.
Australia’s flag carrier is the first company to demand Covid-19 vaccinations, but eager to kick-start air travel, other airlines may soon be requesting the same.
“I think it will be a common theme, talking to my colleagues in other airlines across the world,” Joyce said.
According to CNN Travel, other companies including AirAsia and Air New Zealand said they would be reviewing the same policy once a vaccine was made available.
At the same time, however, aviation experts say the vaccine requirement for travel is still up in the air both in terms of legality and coordination – a unified approach by all governments.
German carrier Lufthansa, for instance, said it would not require pre-flight vaccination for the time being, adding that national governments are responsible for setting conditions of country entry. A Lufthansa spokesperson went on to add that any conditions will be set after there a specific plan for vaccine distribution is drawn up and as soon as it is available in the necessary quantities.
In the meantime, Australia’s government also said vaccinations could be mandatory for travelers wishing to enter the country, stating that though Covid-19 immunization will be voluntary, “there may be circumstances where the Australian government and other governments may introduce border entry or re-entry requirements that are conditional on proof of vaccination”.
Joyce said Qantas was looking at the possibility of a “vaccination passport” that would detail and certify required vaccine and whether it’s acceptable at travel destination.
In the meantime, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents airlines globally and is eager to get operations going, proposed the idea of a digital health pass, which would include vaccine information.
IATA said its IATA Travel Pass was in the final phase of development and would be tested later this year, with the aim of launching in the first quarter of 2021.
“Today borders are double locked. Testing is the first key to enable international travel without quarantine measures,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO in a statement.