Australian flag carrier Qantas says it intends to keep a passenger vaccination mandate for international flights despite a decision by the Department of Home Affairs to drop vaccine rules for visitors beginning July 6.
From Wednesday, foreign tourists wishing to visit Australia will no longer have to provide proof of vaccination to enter the country. The change will allow unvaccinated visitors to freely enter Australia for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
The controversial vaccination rule was what led to tennis superstar Novak Djokovic being detained by Australian border guards shortly after his arrival at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport in January.
As well as dropping its vaccine mandate, the Australian government will also ditch a cumbersome digital passenger declaration.
But Qantas says it doesn’t plan to end its vaccination rules and will independently continue to bar passengers who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 from flying on its international services.
Qantas was one of the first and only airlines to require passengers to be vaccinated – introducing the policy even before the Australian government made it a requirement for international visitors.
Unlike the Australian government’s rules, Qantas requires both foreign passport holders and Australian citizens to provide proof of vaccination before allowing them onboard an international flight.
Bizarrely, while Australia’s Department of Home Affairs shows no signs of dropping an inflight face mask mandate, Qantas is desperate for mask rules to be eased.
While Qantas is unable to relax the rule across its domestic network, the airline no longer requires passengers to wear masks on flights leaving Australia and to countries where mask rules have been relaxed.
Face masks are, however, still required on all flights to Australia.
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.