After what’s felt like the longest nine months of our lives, Covid-19
vaccines have finally become a reality, promising a long-awaited
deliverance from lockdowns and generalised paranoia about being around
Besides making grocery store visits less stressful, vaccinations have
the potential to inspire a new degree of confidence among travellers
and help to reboot the industry.
But, while the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been approved and are
being administered to select persons, it’s bound to be a long while
before inoculations are available to most of the public.
Is it pragmatic or fair, then, to suggest—as Qantas’ CEO Alan Joyce
did last month—to require that airline passengers be vaccinated before
being allowed to fly?
Airlines, trade organisations and destinations are beginning to weigh
in on what the best vaccination policy (if any) for travellers might
be, and how requirements would need to be standardised in order to be
effective. Some think it’s still best to rely on testing measures to
screen out infected passengers, sometimes in combination with
Proponents of the idea believe that requiring inoculations will
convince now-wary travellers to start flying again by guaranteeing a new
level of personal safety. Opponents argue that making Covid
vaccinations mandatory when there’s no report on when they’ll become
widely available would further cripple the air travel industry, which
may not survive the wait.
Fodor’s reported that American Airlines has already opined that it’s
still too early to consider vaccine policies. German carrier Lufthansa
and its subsidiary, Brussels Airlines, won’t be requiring Covid
vaccinations, but are testing feasibility through trial flights that
allow only passengers who’ve tested negative to board.
Korean Air said it thinks airlines may require vaccinations, but only
under the guidance of governments. Air New Zealand agreed, writing in
an email that “Ultimately, it’s up to governments to determine when and
how it is safe to reopen borders and we continue to work closely with
authorities on this."
The trade group Airports Council International (ACI), which
represents airports worldwide, is against airlines mandating vaccines
because it could further deter people from travelling and bog down
efforts to reboot the already floundering aviation industry. ACI world
director general Luis Felipe de Oliveira said, “The industry cannot wait
till vaccination becomes available worldwide. During the transition
period, tests and vaccines together will play a key role [in] the
Another major trade organisation, International Air Transport
Association (IATA), hasn’t taken a stance on vaccination requirements,
but continues to recommend testing—multiple times, if called for—as the
best option to prevent viral transmission and safely reopen
A lack of vaccine accessibility wouldn’t be the only impediment to
realising this notion. While this wouldn’t be the first vaccine to be
mandated for travellers (e.g. passengers must show proof of vaccination
against yellow fever to fly to certain African countries), it could
potentially run up against resistance.
It’s likely that some people will reject the vaccine due to religious
reasons, allergies or other potential medical complications. Also, the
anti-vaxxer movement has been growing in recent years, drawing followers
through social media channels, and sometimes spreading misinformation
and conspiracy theories. Some Americans don’t quite trust the Covid
vaccine because of its seemingly rushed development and release.
A recent study by MMGY Global showed that, while half of respondents
were willing to get vaccinated as soon as possible, 40% preferred to
wait a few months to see if it’s effective and nine percent would
Source: Travel Pulse