Australian carrier Qantas airline started the debate over the vaccination of passengers when it announced on Nov. 23 it would be a requirement on their long-haul flights.
Qantas head Alan Joyce said that in the future, when vaccines become available, passengers must prove that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, he said in a BBC report.
“I think that's going to be a common thing talking to my colleagues in other airlines around the globe,” he said. "We will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft...for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country we think that's a necessity.”
In August, Qantas reported a loss of $1.4 billion due to the pandemic. Australia has one of the tightest border controls since it began lockdowns for its citizens.
In November, Australia’s Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia may require travelers to provide “proof of vaccination” in order to enter its borders.
Just as quarantine effectively halted the industry, a universal requirement for vaccines could do the same.
On Dec. 4, Reuters reported that Airports Council International, which represents airports worldwide, “joined most airlines in calling for a choice between testing or vaccination, fearing a blanket rule imposing pre-flight inoculation would be as disruptive as quarantines.”
“Just as quarantine effectively halted the industry, a universal requirement for vaccines could do the same,” ACI world director general Luis Felipe de Oliveira told Reuters. “While we welcome the rapid development and deployment of vaccines, there will be a considerable period before they are widely available.”
Oliveira added that the airline industry cannot wait till vaccination becomes available worldwide. “During the transition period, tests and vaccines together will play a key role in the industry recovery.”
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in November that airlines’ losses will extend to 2021. It said the industry will lose $157 billion this year and 2021 due to the pandemic—worse than previously estimated when the coronavirus started to spread around the world.
“This crisis is devastating and unrelenting,” IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac said in a statement. “We need to get borders safely reopened without quarantine so that people will fly again. With airlines expected to bleed cash at least until the fourth quarter of 2021 there is no time to lose.”
IATA last month forecast that the airline industry will lose $38.7 billion in 2021, adjusting its previous estimate of $15.8. It expects passenger numbers to drop to 1.8 billion or 60% less pre-COVID, which is the same number of passengers in 2003.