Qantas will ban unvaccinated travelers when it resumes international flights
Qantas expects to relaunch international flights to the U.S. and the U.K. by Christmas, but if you want to board one of its aircraft, you better make sure you're vaccinated.
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Australia's flagship airline has confirmed it will be implementing a policy requiring only fully vaccinated passengers to be allowed on overseas flights.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the new mandate will be a necessary step for airlines once Australia reopens its borders for international travel, saying, "We think that's going to be one of the requirements to show that you're flying safe and getting into those countries."
Australia's government has announced it will have a vaccine passport for Australians to prove their vaccination status once overseas travel is allowed again.
The airline said searches for international flights have tripled since it announced its goal to restart overseas flights, with the most popular searches being for London, Los Angeles, Singapore and Tokyo.
"The population needs it," Joyce said about traveling. "I think people want to connect together, people want to see family again. People want to do business again. There's a lot of very important reasons why we should start opening up when we meet those key targets on the vaccination plan," he said.
The carrier expects Australia to reopen overseas travel once the country reaches an 80% vaccination rate. But they're not close to that number yet, with less than 40% of eligible Australians being fully vaccinated. A recent increase in cases, however, has led the government to accelerate its vaccine rollout strategy, and officials say they expect to have 70% of the population fully vaccinated by October. If that goal is reached, hitting 80% by December is considered a reasonable target.
Qantas, much like rival Virgin Australia, started an incentive program to encourage its frequent flyers to get vaccinated. Fully vaccinated members of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program could choose between 1,000 frequent flyer points, 15 status credits or a $20 flight discount voucher (to be used with either Qantas or Jetstar).
More than 300,000 people have already claimed their reward, with 75% choosing the 1,000 frequent flyer points.