Hoping to someday travel overseas again? You're going to have to roll up your sleeves. Qantas boss Alan Joyce has confirmed that international travel will likely only be accessible to people who have had the jab, suggesting that "vaccination passports" will soon become the new normal.
In an interview with the BBC on March 21, Joyce said that “governments are going to insist” that travellers provide proof of vaccination before being allowed to travel. Joyce added that he was aware of government-level talks about vaccination status becoming a globally recognised “condition of entry”.
However, he also indicated that even if proof of vaccination wasn’t adopted as a legal requirement, many airlines, including his, could take matters into their own hands and make vaccination part of the terms and conditions of purchasing a flight. “We have a duty of care to our passengers and to our crew, to say that everybody in that aircraft needs to be safe,” he said.
Joyce said research conducted by Qantas had revealed that more than 90 per cent of people surveyed said they would be prepared to accept vaccination as a condition of travel.
However, Joyce also said that Australia had set a very high bar for suppressing the spread of the virus, which might turn public opinion about reopening international borders. “Once we open up our international borders, we’re going to have virus circulating, and that’s going to be a big change for a lot of Australia, to find that acceptable,” he said. “We need to understand they can’t have zero risk with this virus.”
Of all the industries adversely affected by the threat of the virus, the travel sector has been one of the hardest hit. Worldwide, air travel fell by an average of 75.6 per cent in 2020, with some months recording reductions in passengers of more than 90 per cent. It’s estimated that the airline industry has lost more than $2.3 trillion in revenue since international travel was largely suspended last March. Reviving the travel and tourism economy has become a major focus for many recovery plans all over the world, and the rollout of vaccination programs is closely tied to these efforts.
While airlines and governments may insist on proof of vaccination, the WHO has said that it doesn’t agree with "the fact that a vaccinations passport should be a condition of travel,” adding that regardless of what the private sector introduces, a government-level mandate would likely be needed to make such conditions binding.