Qantas says Covid vaccination will be mandatory for international passengers

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Qantas plans to require proof that customers on international flights have been vaccinated for Covid-19, once a vaccine is available in the marketplace.
Qantas plans to require proof that customers on international flights have been vaccinated for Covid-19, once a vaccine is available in the marketplace.

Qantas plans to require proof that customers on international flights have been vaccinated for Covid-19, once a vaccine is available in the marketplace.

"We think that's a necessity," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said in an interview Monday on the Australian television program "A Current Affair."

• Related: U.S. airports roll out Covid tests in bid to reopen travel markets

Joyce's remarks came on the same day that the University of Oxford in partnership with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced yet another successful Covid-19 vaccine trial, joining recent announcements by Pfizer and Moderna. Pfizer hopes to begin distributing the vaccine in the U.S. as soon as mid-December.

Qantas' plan to require proof of a Covid-19 vaccination is likely to be adopted widely by air carriers, especially for airlines in countries with relatively low transmission, said David Powell, a medical advisor for IATA.

"This can only happen when the vaccine is widely available," Powell cautioned during a Monday webcast that was part of IATA's Annual General Meeting, which the trade group is holding virtually this week.

"The day after the vaccine comes out, nothing will happen because it will take months to get sufficient penetration and distribution," Powell added. IATA doesn't expect a vaccine to be widely distributed until the middle of next year.

Powell emphasized IATA's position that in the meantime governments must continue to work together and with airlines and airports to establish standardized testing protocols that will replace quarantines and border closures.

• Related: Airline alliances urge testing over quarantines

Airlines, he said, simply don't have the cash reserves to wait on widespread vaccination before restarting international travel.

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