Qantas Airlines First to Require COVID Vaccine for International Flyers: 'That's a Necessity'

Qantas is Australia's largest airline

Qantas Airlines
Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty

Without a coronavirus vaccine, this airline won't let you fly.

On Monday, Qantas Airlines announced that it would be amending its terms and conditions to include a mandate that international travelers get a COVID-19 vaccine before flying — once one becomes available.

"Whether you need that domestically, we’ll have to see what happens with COVID-19 in the market, but certainly for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country, we think that’s a necessity," CEO Alan Joyce told the Australian news program A Current Affair.

According to Joyce, he expects other airlines to enact similar requirements, as well as new policies surrounding a digital "vaccination passport."

"I’m talking to my colleagues in other airlines around the globe and I think it’s going to be a common theme across the board," Joyce said.

David Powell, a medical adviser for the International Air Transport Association, echoed Joyce's statements in an interview with the Financial Times. "Being able to have verifiable information about the health status of passengers, I think that is going to be critical," he said.

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The lobby group, Airlines of Europe, told the Times that they agreed these policies will be "very likely," however, the travel industry "can’t afford to wait" for a vaccine.

"At this stage, our main priority is the adoption of a common testing protocol and the recognition of test standards and measures for travel both in Europe and across the globe," it told the outlet.

There have been several vaccination breakthroughs in recent weeks, which have sparked some hope among those in the travel industry about getting back into full swing in early 2021.

A third potential vaccine was announced from AstraZeneca on Monday. The company said their trials showed the medication to be 90 percent effective, according to USA Today.

Last week, Pfizer submitted requests for an emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration after data showed that their vaccine is 95 percent effective.

Earlier this month, the pharmaceutical company and its collaborator, BioNTech, announced that preliminary results from trials showed its potential vaccine was at least 90 percent effective. After concluding their phase three study last week, the vaccine has proven to be 95 percent effective with "no serious safety concerns observed" in the trial participants.

The company hopes to get their vaccine — which requires two shots, given three weeks apart — approved, and have initial doses available for distribution before the end of the year. They said they could have 50 million doses available this year, and 1.3 billion in 2021.

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