Qantas boss Alan Joyce yesterday said he would require passengers on future Qantas international services to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Previously, Alan Joyce has said he doesn’t expect Qantas to resume any significant long-haul international flying before a vaccine comes to market. Now, he’s doubling down, suggesting a no jab, no fly rule on future Qantas international flights.
Mr Joyce has been doing the media rounds this week. But Channel Nine’s A Current Affair had a scoop on Monday night. Alan Joyce told the television show;
“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say, for international travelers, that we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft.”
Despite some promising trial results, no COVID-19 vaccine is yet available and there is no guarantee one will become available. But Alan Joyce has long been bullish about a vaccine as a way out of his airline’s COVID-19 woes. He told A Current Affair;
“On international (flights), we are being very optimistic about a vaccine. We think with the rollout of a vaccine next year, we’re optimistic that we could see the borders opening up quite significantly through 2021.”
Qantas CEO supports a vaccination passport
Mr Joyce thinks most international airlines will require passengers to be vaccinated before flying.
“I think that’s going to be a common thing. Talking to my colleagues around the globe, I think it is going to be a common thing across the board.
“What we are looking at is how you can have a vaccination passport, an electronic version of it, that certifies what the vaccine is, is it acceptable in the country you are traveling to?
“There’s a lot of logistics, a lot of technology, that will need to be put into place to make this happen, but the airlines and the governments are working on this as we speak.”
— A Current Affair (@ACurrentAffair9) November 23, 2020
Alan Joyce not pinning all hopes on a vaccine
Mr Joyce isn’t hanging all his hopes on a vaccine. While not operating any scheduled international services, Qantas has operated some repatriation flights lately. It expects these to continue into the New Year.
“What’s great about those repatriation flights that we’re now doing from Europe, in particular, is that we are doing a test before people get on the aircraft, a PCR test.
“We are doing then, a test in Darwin, which hopefully will allow us to determine whether (the compulsory) 14 day quarantine is too long, can we make it shorter than that?”
Qantas has also been testing wastewater from these repatriation flights for traces of COVID-19.
“We’re actually testing the waste water on the aircraft to check if somebody on the aircraft had COVID-19, and that’s proving to have some very promising results.
“There’s a lot of activity that’s taking place. So, if we don’t get travel bubbles, if we don’t get a vaccine, then testing is the way to try to reduce the amount of time that’s spent in quarantine.”
Qantas CEO says, let’s look at better testing to shorten quarantine time
My Joyce also suggested a better testing regime as another way to manage the spread of COVID-19. This is particularly so in the absence of a vaccine. Right now, quarantine issues are a big barrier to international travel and Qantas resuming international flights.
Currently, all international travelers to Australia go through a compulsory self-funded 14-day quarantine at a government designated facility. Mr Joyce acknowledges there is no data out yet to support a shorter quarantine time. But he thinks there may be grounds for looking at lessening the quarantine period.
“But hopefully, and I think the hypothesis that the scientists have, is that if we could get the data showing that if you had the right testing regime, we could get that 14 days down to a lot shorter time.
“If that happens, it makes it (international flying) more viable.”