Qantas boss says all international travellers on airline will have to have vaccination

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Alan Joyce says once the vaccine is widely available it will be a non-negotiable condition of flight on international services

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce speaks to media at Sydney airpor
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce speaks to media at Sydney airport. He says the airline won’t resume full international services until a vaccine is widespread. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce speaks to media at Sydney airport. He says the airline won’t resume full international services until a vaccine is widespread. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Last modified on Mon 23 Nov 2020 16.35 EST

The chief executive of Qantas says once a Covid-19 vaccine is a readily available, proof international travellers have received the jab will be a non-negotiable condition of flight.

In an interview with Nine’s A Current Affair on Monday night, Alan Joyce was asked what the airline’s policy would be surrounding vaccines once they have been distributed to the community.

“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say for international travellers, that we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft,” he said.

“Certainly for international visitors coming out, and people leaving the country. We think that’s a necessity.”

He did not clarify if this would apply to those coming from countries where the vaccine may be slower to roll out, such as developing or war-torn nations.

A decision would be made later down the track about whether the airline would require passengers travelling within Australia to receive the vaccine, Joyce said.

“Whether you need that domestically, we’ll have to see what happens with Covid-19 in the market,” he said.

“I think that’s going to be a common thing, talking to my colleagues in other airlines around the globe … What we’re looking at is how you can have the [proof of] vaccination in an electronic version of a passport that certifies what the vaccine is, if it’s acceptable the country you’re travelling to.

“There’s a lot of logistics, a lot of technology that needs to be put in place to make this happen.”

The legality of mandatory vaccination is likely to be a hot topic of debate after the Oxford and AstraZeneca vaccine has become the third vaccine to demonstrate more than 90% efficacy is stopping people getting ill from Covid-19.

Scott Morrison has previously said vaccination will be “as mandatory as you can possibly make it” for Australians. The prime minister originally suggested that only those with medical exemptions would be allowed to refuse it, but he later walked this statement back, saying: “We can’t hold someone down and make them take it.”

In the interview Joyce said it was unlikely that the airline would resume regular flight operations to hotspot countries until a vaccine was widely distributed.

“Unfortunately, with the levels of the virus in the United States and in Europe, we’re not going to see operations to those destinations in any real strength until we see a vaccine being rolled out, which is likely towards the end of 2021.”