Qantas boss says Covid vaccination will be compulsory for international travel

24 November 2020, 08:14

Alan Joyce said vaccines could be compulsory for Qantas travel
Alan Joyce said vaccines could be compulsory for Qantas travel. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

The Chief Executive of Qantas has said that once a Covid-19 vaccine is readily available, travellers will need to show proof they have taken it before they can fly with the airline.

In an interview on Monday night, Alan Joyce was asked what the airline’s policy would be surrounding vaccines once they are easily accessible worldwide.

He said: “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."

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

Mr Joyce also said he has been talking to his counterparts at other airlines around the world about the possibility of a "vaccination passport" for overseas travellers.

Mr Joyce said creating a vaccination passport for inbound and outbound travellers to and from Australia would require a lot of thought and logistics and may need government intervention.

"But certainly for international visitors coming out and people leaving Australia, we think that's a necessity," he explained.

"What we are 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 needs to be put in place to make this happen.”

His comments come after the momentous breakthrough on Monday when tests on the Oxford and AstraZeneca vaccine showed it can prevent at least 70 percent of people from getting Covid-19.

Scientists have hailed the news from the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine trial because the vaccine is cheaper and easier to store and distribute than other candidates.

Data suggests perfecting the dose could increase effectiveness of the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine to up to 90 percent.Oxford University said that interim analysis from its phase three vaccine trial shows that the 70% effectiveness comes from combining two doses.

One was 90% effective, the other 62%.

Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at the University of Oxford tweeted: "Oxford jab is far cheaper, and is easier to store and get to every corner of the world than the other two."

The tests show the jab is also effective in preventing many people getting ill and it has been shown to work in different age groups, including the elderly.

In the interview Mr Joyce also 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.”

The Australian airlines comments come as Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters on Tuesday there had not been a decision on border or re-entry rules around potential vaccines.

"Our task is to provide the vaccine to all Australians," he said.

Restrictions have helped Australia, with a population of 26 million, tame the outbreak.

The country has reported nearly 28,000 cases and just over 900 deaths since pandemic began, fewer than many other nations of its size.