Qantas to require Covid vaccine on international flights

Sydney (AFP) –

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International air travellers will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to fly with Australia's Qantas, the airline's CEO has said, adding the rule was likely to become "common" across the industry.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said late Monday the Australian flag carrier would implement the measure once a coronavirus vaccine was made available to the public.

"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 told Channel Nine.

"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 (to Australia) and people leaving the country, we think that is a necessity."

Joyce predicted the rule would likely become standard practice among airlines around the world, with governments and airlines currently considering the introduction of electronic vaccination passports.

Australia's international borders have effectively been closed since March to curb the spread of the virus, which has already claimed more than one million lives worldwide.

The country has even limited the numbers of its own citizens allowed to return each week, leaving tens of thousands of Australians stranded overseas.

Qantas has grounded more than 200 planes and fired 8,500 staff as it attempts to offset a US$1.9 billion loss caused by the collapse in demand for air travel.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Australia is seeking to create "travel bubbles" with other countries that have curbed the spread of the virus.

However, the country is unlikely to fully reopen to international travellers until a vaccine is widely available.

Australia has been relatively successful in containing the coronavirus, recording just over 27,800 cases and 907 deaths since the pandemic began.