Australian airline Qantas will require vaccines for all passengers on international flights within the coming months, its CEO confirmed on Wednesday.
“Qantas will have a policy that internationally we'll only be carrying vaccinated passengers,” CEO Alan Joyce said, according to Traveller.
He said the requirement will help “show that you’re flying safe and getting into those countries.”
The company hopes to roll out such a policy by Christmas, according to Joyce. It is not clear if Qantas will require passengers on domestic flights to be vaccinated.
In November 2020 the airline said it viewed vaccines as “the key to restarting international travel with most of the rest of the world.”
Joyce’s comments come after the airline last month announced that all front-line employees — including cabin crew, pilots and airport workers — must be fully vaccinated by mid-November. The remainder of the airline's workers are required to be inoculated by the end of March.
The company said documented medical exemptions will be allowed, but said such a situation is "expected to be very rare."
Joyce in a statement said the policy would “help guard against the disruptions that can be caused by just one positive COVID-case shutting down a freight facility or airport terminal.”
“It’s clear that vaccinations are the only way to end the cycle of lockdowns and border closures and for a lot of Qantas and Jetstar employees that means getting back to work again,” he added.
Most airlines have been ramping up pressure on employees and passengers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. United Airlines told its staff Wednesday that employees granted religious exemptions to its vaccine mandate would be placed on unpaid leave.
Australia’s borders are currently closed because of COVID-19. The country is seeing a spike in coronavirus infections, and set a record for number of cases last month.
The country currently has three approved vaccines: Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna.
Joyce in March said he thinks governments will “insist” on vaccines for international travelers “as a condition of entry” once everyone is inoculated.
The airline currently has a vaccine-incentive program in place that awards fully vaccinated frequent fliers with extra frequent-flier points or Australian dollars, equivalent to $15, taken off their next flight or affiliate flight, according to Insider.