Qantas, the leading Australian airline, has announced that it will not allow passengers to fly on international flights unless they can show documents proving that they have had the COVID-19 vaccine.
Alan Joyce, the airline’s chief executive, said that he believes a vaccine will become a requirement for other airlines as soon as one is rolled out.
Qantas is currently operating at a much lower capacity than they typically do, as a majority of the airline's international routes are suspended because the country has temporarily closed its borders to travelers during the pandemic.
Most of these routes won't be reopened until sometime in the middle of next year, and when they do, vaccine proof is expected to be required by most airlines, if not all of them, and if the airlines don't require vaccinations for travel, governments might.
In an interview with Channel 9 in Australia, Joyce said, "We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say for international travelers, we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft. I think that’s going to be a common thing talking to my colleagues in other airlines around the globe."
VACCINE TO FLY: Qantas is the first airline to require COVID-19 vaccinations for international travelers once they become widely available, with the company’s CEO calling it a "necessity” and describing it as a “vaccination passport.” @DavidMuir reports. https://t.co/wIixdvC4aq pic.twitter.com/Qv3Jo9kpPF
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) November 24, 2020
"What we’re looking at is how you can have a vaccination passport, an electronic version of it, that certifies what the vaccine is, is it acceptable to the country you are traveling to. There’s a lot of logistics, a lot of technology that will be needed to put in place to make this happen, but the airlines and the governments are working on this as we speak," he added.
Joyce said that he is confident that a successful coronavirus vaccine will be rolled out on the market very soon and allow borders to open up slowly throughout 2021.
In the Australian government’s new National Vaccination Policy, a 'vaccination certificate" was suggested for international travelers, very similar to the idea described by Joyce.
Back in September, the same policy was suggested by Etihad’s chief executive, Tony Douglas, who told the Financial Times that health visas for travelers could help manage the pandemic.
This policy is not unique to Australia either, the same exact program has been suggested for Europe and North America as well.
Some pharmaceutical companies have announced that they have made successful vaccines, but it is still not entirely clear when they will be available to the general population. At this point, it is also unclear how many businesses and services will start to require proof of vaccination once they become available.
There have also been reports that the vaccines available will only last for a short period of time, much like a flu shot, which would require frequent flyers, and pretty much anyone else, to return to the doctors for shots on a regular basis.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the vaccines that will be available in the next few months have some pretty intense side effects. The organization has called on doctors to warn their patients about the side effects.
Australian tourism is slowly reopening with Queensland yesterday opening up the border to Victoria.
— ticker NEWS (@tickerNEWSco) November 25, 2020