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Coronavirus vaccine will likely be required for international flights, Qantas CEO says

Qantas planes sit on the tarmac at Sydney Airport. (Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg News)

Australian air carrier Qantas anticipates asking all international travelers to prove they’ve been immunized against the coronavirus once a vaccine is widely available — a requirement that is likely to be adopted throughout the industry, CEO Alan Joyce said Monday.

“I think it will be a common theme, talking to my colleagues in other airlines across the world,” Joyce told Australia’s Nine News.

Travelers entering or leaving Australia could be required to show an electronic “vaccination passport” that shows which vaccine they received, Joyce said. He acknowledged that the government would probably need to provide input, though Australian officials have said that they are primarily focused on orchestrating the rollout of a vaccine once one is available, and have yet to decide if border restrictions will be changing. Australia requires two weeks of supervised quarantine for all new arrivals, except for New Zealanders who are exempt under the terms of the two countries’ “travel bubble.”

The International Air Transport Association has been working to build an app that can serve as a “digital passport” like the one that Joyce described, with the goal of making it safe for countries to reopen their borders so that travel can safely resume. On Monday, the organization announced that its app was in the final stage of development and a pilot program would begin later this year.

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