Qantas has finally lifted its face mask mandate on some international flights and the airline’s chief executive Alan Joyce wants the Australian government to go further and make masks optional on domestic flights as well.
At present, the mask mandate will only be lifted on outbound international flights from New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia to destinations where inflight face mask mandates have also been lifted.
The rule change applies to direct flights to the United States, United Kingdom and Rome but it won’t apply to any international flights from Melbourne because the Victoria state government haven’t yet given the go-ahead.
Masks will continue to remain mandatory on all flights to Australia because an inflight mask mandate remains in force, while flights to popular destinations including Singapore will also be mandatory masking zones.
Given the risk of confusion, Qantas has warned passengers to check government restrictions prior to departing for the airport. Free face masks will still be available for passengers who forget to come to the airport with a mask.
In an internal memo, the airline told staff that the policy shift was “an important step in our transition to living with Covid, and we welcome this change”.
Joyce has argued that face mask rules should be eased on domestic flights because several studies have concluded that the risk of virus transmission during a flight is “very low”.
The airline does, however, say that they “respect and understand” that some passengers and staff will continue to wear a face mask.
Last week, Australia’s dropped its airport mask mandate after the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee concluded that it was “no longer proportionate to mandate mask use in airport terminals” when masks weren’t required in nearly any other public indoor setting.
The AHPCC urged passengers to continue wearing a face mask even if they aren’t mandated to wear one.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.