Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce has confirmed the Australian airline will mandate Covid-19 vaccinations for all passengers flying overseas, as the country gears up to reopen some international routes by Christmas.
Earlier today, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the state would reopen to domestic and regional travel once the 70 per cent vaccination rate was reached, while international flights would resume once the 80 per cent target was met.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison agreed with the Premier's plan following a national cabinet media conference last week, saying the Commonwealth would support opening international borders in states and territories that reached the 80 per cent vaccination milestone.
In addition, the Federal Government would encourage state and territory leaders to adopt home quarantine arrangements – similar to what is currently being trialled in South Australia for returning citizens.
Qantas boss Alan Joyce announced last month that in line with the Federal Government's vaccination forecast, the airline would resume overseas flights to certain ports from mid-December. The countries on the short list for routes to resume include Japan, Singapore, the US and the UK.
In line with the reopening, Joyce said all frontline staff – such as cabin crew, pilots and airport workers – would be required to be fully vaccinated by November 15, while all remaining employees will need the jab by the end of March 2022.
Now, the same rule will apply to passengers who fly on an international route with the airline.
Speaking at the Trans-Tasman Business Circle on Tuesday, Joyce said the airline – like hospitality venues within Australia – would introduce a policy that would require proof of vaccination before flying.
"Qantas will have a policy that internationally we'll only be carrying vaccinated passengers," Joyce said.
"Because we think that's going to be one of the requirements to show that you're flying safe and getting into those countries. We're hoping that can happen by Christmas."
Joyce first flagged the airline's 'no jab, no fly' policy in July 2020, announcing it would mirror the requirements in Israel, Iceland and some European countries when overseas travel returns on a larger scale.
"Internationally we absolutely will [mandate vaccines] and that's becoming a standard around the world," he told ABC radio at the time.
However, when pressed at the group's yearly financial results in August, where the airline reported a staggering loss of A$1.83 billion ($1.89b) for 2021, Joyce said no decision had been made around mandating vaccinations for domestic passengers.
"We haven't made a call on that or a decision on it," Joyce said in August around mandating vaccinations for domestic travellers.
"Already some states are implementing some domestic requirements. So Western Australia and Queensland are asking for people to be fully vaccinated from New South Wales, at least one shot of vaccination before they can get in. So we have a lot of logistical and other issues to resolve on domestic and we have to figure a lot of the logistical issues around this and we have not made any decisions as of yet."