Australia hopes to resume international flights by Christmas

Australian carrier Qantas expects international flights to the U.S., the U.K. and parts of Asia to resume by Christmas, CEO Alan Joyce.

Virgin Australia makes COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory, calls for international flights to resume by Christmas.

Virgin chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka says international flights could resume by Christmas and she is optimistic Australians will achieve desired vaccination rates to enable lockdowns to end and state borders to reopen.

But the boss of Australia's second-biggest airline said she was firmly against vaccine passports that would impose different restrictions on people flying between states.

"If you do the math, across the country, we should be in a position where we're 80 per cent vaccinated, you know, [at the] latest end of November, early December," she said.

"If we're well vaccinated, we have the most vulnerable, vaccinated and protected.

"I'm not sure what we're waiting for, in opening up travel quarters with other countries that are well vaccinated."

Virgin Australia has announced it is introducing mandatory vaccinations for all of its 6,000 employees.

Qantas announced the same no jab, no work policy on August 18.

The airline is aiming to have all frontline staff vaccinated by November 15, and all office-based workers by March 31. It also wants all its suppliers, including catering staff, fully vaccinated.

Ms Hrdlicka said the company had begun consultation with employees and unions ahead of its policy being finalised in September.

Australian airlines have been suffering large losses since March last year, when Australia closed its borders to most international visitors and banned residents from leaving without valid reason.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has said he expects international flights to the United States, the United Kingdom and parts of Asia to resume by Christmas, but has stopped short of pushing for mandatory vaccinations of airline passengers.

Ms Hrdlicka said governments, not the airline, would need to dictate whether passengers had to get vaccinations, but that she was against having vaccine passports.

"We're very hopeful that Australia does the right thing and everybody does their bit to get vaccinated.

"The notion of domestic passports to move state to state fills me with dread, because it implies that we're no longer behaving as one country.

"I think is an unhealthy thing for us as a country."

But she said some requirements before people travel could be useful.

"That may be as simple as, you know, check-ins as you come into the airport, and your vaccine certification follows with you," she said, adding that if Australians played their part in getting vaccinated, nothing should stop state borders reopening by year's end.

"We need to test and learn and get confident in being open and free as a country again."

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-08-30/virgin-qantas-covid19-vaccinations-travel-flights-borders/100418188

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