Joyce said the airline was looking at changing its terms and conditions to “ask people to have a vaccination before they get on the aircraft.”
“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,” the Qantas chief said.
While Qantas is the first airline to indicate that Covid-19 vaccinations would be a must before travel, others could soon follow suit.
“I think it will be a common theme, talking to my colleagues in other airlines across the world,” Joyce said.
Alan Joyce, chief executive officer of Qantas Airways, in Sydney, Australia, on February 20, 2020.
Brent Lewin/Bloomberg/Getty Images
A spokesperson for AirAsia told CNN Travel on Tuesday that once a vaccine is available the airline “will review the requirement for guests to be vaccinated against Covid-19 for international travel.”
Air New Zealand said it was “really encouraged by the news around vaccines” and said in a statement that “ultimately, it’s up to governments to determine when and how it is safe to reopen borders and we continue to work closely with authorities on this.”
Whether a vaccine requirement for travel becomes the international standard is at this stage far from certain. There are also questions about whether governments would mandate such a move — and the legalities of doing so — before allowing international travelers into their countries.
But the issue of how to safely kick start travel during the pandemic is something airlines and countries are grappling with. Airlines around the world have been hit hard by the decline in travel and countries have missed out on much needed tourist revenue.
Qantas 737-800 aircraft parked on the runway at Sydney Airport on May 20, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.
James D. Morgan/Getty Images
Vaccination passports and health passes
Joyce said Qantas was looking at the potential for passengers to have a “vaccination passport” that “certifies what the vaccine is and whether it’s acceptable to the country you’re traveling to.”
It’s something the airline industry is thinking seriously about.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) — the body representing airlines globally — said Monday that a digital health pass, which could include vaccine information, is the key to opening borders.
“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.
“The second key is the global information infrastructure needed to securely manage, share and verify test data matched with traveler identities in compliance with border control requirements. That’s the job of IATA Travel Pass. We are bringing this to market in the coming months to also meet the needs of the various travel bubbles and public health corridors that are starting operation.”
Flights resume as border controls relax
Qantas and Jetstar — which once operated a flight every 15 minutes in peak periods along this route — launched 17 flights between Sydney and Melbourne on Monday, according to Qantas. The airline said that the reopened route would help boost the Qantas Group’s overall domestic capacity.
On Tuesday, the airline said that Qantas and Jetstar will operate more than 1,200 extra return flights into Queensland from New South Wales and Victoria in the lead up to Christmas, following the decision by the Queensland government to lift border restrictions.
However, the airline’s international fleet remains grounded. In August, Qantas said it’s “unlikely” to resume international flights before July 2021, as it suffers heavy losses due to the pandemic.
CNN’s Jennifer Hauser contributed to reporting.