Will you need a COVID-19 vaccine to fly? An airline says yes

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Now that a COVID-19 vaccine is finally in sight, Governments, employers, schools and service providers are debating whether or not to impose mandatory jabs. An air carrier takes a stand on the issue.

Thursday, Alan Joyce, CEO of Australia Qantas Airways, said Qantas will require passengers to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to board international flights.

“Australia’s success in virtually eliminating COVID means we will need a vaccine to get international travel back to normal,” Joyce said on a call with investors on Thursday. “We have a duty of care to our staff and passengers, and once a safe and effective vaccine is readily available, that will be a requirement.”

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Joyce initially suggested his airline review the policy by End of november. Qantas appears to be the only global airline to require passengers to be vaccinated.

A Singapore Airlines spokesperson said Fortune it “would work closely with all relevant government authorities and would be guided by the advice of health professionals.” The spokesperson also said recent vaccine announcements “give hope” that the vaccine rollout will spur a resumption of air travel.

AirAsia, the Malaysian low-cost airliner, told CNN in November, that it would only reconsider the need to make vaccines mandatory when vaccines become widely available. Air New Zealand also told CNN at the time that “Ultimately it is up to governments to determine when and how it is safe to reopen the borders and we continue to work closely with authorities on this matter. . ”

Asian Airlines Cathay Pacific and Eva Airways from Taiwan as well as US carriers Delta, United Airlines and American Airlines did not come back immediately Fortunethe organization ‘s request for comments on the obligation to vaccinate passengers.

Airlines grapple with the issue as the world awaits the start of mass vaccination campaigns. Currently, three vaccine manufacturers published promising clinical data from phase III trials. The UK this week became the first country in the world to authorize a science-backed vaccine for high-risk groups when he gave the green light to the Pfizer vaccine. The UK will start distributing the doses next week.

Qantas’ vaccine requirements largely reflect the Australian government’s stance on the matter.

In November, Australia’s Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Australian government could require travelers to provide “proof of vaccination” to enter its borders. In August, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested on a radio show that he would make a vaccine mandatory for all Australians, though he would return to the comments later.

Australia’s push to impose vaccines illustrates just how low risk it is over COVID-19, the disease it has worked so hard to contain.

Australia has only registered a handful of new COVID-19 infections per day after months of tight lockdowns and stringent border requirements. Amid the pandemic, Australia has largely forbids its own citizens to leave the country and weekly limits imposed on how many Australians can go home.

Industry experts support proving that travelers are vaccinated – possibly with a vaccination passport of all kinds—Is unrealistic on a global scale given the looming complexities of production and distribution associated with immunizing the world’s population.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the leading trade association for global airliners, said in november that he does not expect vaccines to be widely available until mid-2021. In the meantime, governments should work with airlines to open borders and replace mandatory quarantine periods for international travelers with more tests, medical adviser David Powell said during a IATA meeting in November.

The travel industry’s early optimism about so-called travel bubbles has faded with the last failure: the delay of a high-profile Hong Kong-Singapore link due to a new outbreak of COVID-19 in Hong Kong.

Qantas’s Joyce said on Thursday that the blocked bubble proved vaccines were the best hope for the return to normal of global travel.

“The potential for vaccine roll-out perhaps faster than the bubbles that occur is probably real at this point,” he said.

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