Australians face vaccine travel passport future
Australians wanting to fly internationally may soon need a digital vaccine passport that shows if they have been vaccinated for the coronavirus and are cleared for travel.
Judging by international trials already underway, Australians would download a vaccine travel passport app on their smartphones, similar to the government's COVIDSafe app.
Qantas boss Alan Joyce told A Current Affair on Monday he foresaw a future where Australians must be vaccinated if they wish to board his airline's international jets.
"We are looking at changing our terms and conditions (for international travellers) that we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft," Mr Joyce said.
The airline chief said Qantas believed vaccination would be "a necessity", as governments around the globe devise safe strategies to open international borders.
Qantas boss says vaccination compulsory for international flights
Sydney beaches open with COVID-safe measures this summer
A digital travel pass linked to passengers' smartphones, which will indicate clearance for safe passage, will soon be trialled by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
American giant United Airlines has also prototyped a digital passport on its New York-London route.
NSW Council for Civil Liberties spokesperson Stephen Blanks said any moves to make vaccines compulsory for travel should be government-led.
"The Federal Government would need to regulate this to ensure that appropriate allowances are made for people who have legitimate reasons for not getting vaccinated," he said.
Those reasons could be health, religious or conscientious based, he said.
If the Federal Government has been in consultation with Qantas about compulsory vaccinations, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt was not letting on.
He said on Tuesday the government had not decided whether it would make vaccinations compulsory for international visitors.
However the government's own COVID-19 Vaccination Policy paper includes a provision that anyone not vaccinated against coronavirus may be stopped at the border.
"There may ... be circumstances where the Australian Government and other governments may introduce border entry or re-entry requirements that are conditional on proof of vaccination," the paper stated.
Aviation boss rubbishes dire outlook, predicts brink of boom time
Given no vaccine has been approved and an effective rollout will take many months, Qantas said any such policy would be some time away.
9News understands Qantas would include some exemptions and alternative arrangements for those who cannot take the vaccine for medical reasons.
The airline industry is urgently trying to re-establish international travel without the need for government-enforced quarantine, which essentially kill demand for air travel.
Emirates, the United Arab Emirates carrier, is conducting on-site coronavirus tests with rapid analysis before passengers board their aircraft.
International air travel remains 90 per cent down on 2019 levels, according to IATA data.
"People want and need global mobility," IATA boss Alexandre de Juniac said.
"We must manage how we live with the virus.
"But that does not have to mean destroying aviation, risking millions of jobs, crippling economies and tearing apart the international social fabric."
Mr de Juniac claimed it was possible to "safely open borders today" with systematic COVID-19 testing.
Governments and the aviation industry are eagerly watching the progress of several vaccines, which appear close to being successfully rolled out next year.
FOLLOW:Mark Saunokonoko on Twitter