After outlining its plans last month to restart international flights by December, Australian carrier Qantas announced this week that when it does finally start flying abroad again, only those who are vaccinated will be permitted onboard.
“Qantas will have a policy that internationally we’ll only be carrying vaccinated passengers,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said during an interview with Trans-Tasman Business Circle, a business networking group. He added that he believes that being vaccinated will be “one of the requirements to show that you’re flying safe” and for entering certain countries.
Joyce’s statement comes after Qantas last month reported its intentions to gradually restart global operations by the end of this year based on Australia’s plan for a phased reopening of its international borders.
In order for international borders to begin to reopen, Australia needs to reach a government target of 80 percent of the population being vaccinated, which could happen by December, according to current projections cited by Qantas. Once the borders do finally reopen—after being largely closed since 2020—the initial focus will be on destinations with higher vaccination rates that are likely to be classified as lower risk, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and Japan.
Qantas has not said how it would address children who are too young to be vaccinated or those who can’t be vaccinated due to medical reasons.
In the interview, Joyce said that the resumption of international travel to and from Australia also depends on what kind of quarantine requirements the government will put in place—for instance whether an in-home quarantine would be allowed or if travelers will be required to quarantine at specific government-assigned hotels.
While the timeline and circumstances of reopening will ultimately be decided by the government, Qantas said it “needs to make some reasonable assumptions based on the latest data to make sure it can offer flights to customers as soon as they become feasible.”
The airline also plans to put flights between Australia and New Zealand on sale for travel beginning in mid-December 2021 “on the assumption some or all parts of the two-way bubble will restart,” Qantas stated. Flights to Hong Kong are expected to resume in February 2022, with the rest of the airline’s international network gearing to restart as of April 2022.
“The prospect of flying overseas might feel a long way off, especially with New South Wales and Victoria in lockdown, but the current pace of the vaccine rollout means we should have a lot more freedom in a few months’ time,” Joyce said in a statement.
While numerous governments throughout the world have implemented vaccine requirements for entry, and some airlines and travel companies in the U.S. have mandated vaccines for employees, we have yet to see any major international carriers carry out a widespread vaccine requirement for all passengers. This would be a first unless other airlines do the same prior to the restart of international travel into and out of Australia.