Qantas has become the first major airline to confirm that it won't be allowing unvaccinated passengers on board after coronavirus vaccines become widely available. Alan Joyce, the Australian airline's chief executive, says vaccines will be a "necessity" for international travelers when air travel starts to return to normal, the Financial Times reports. Joyce tells 9News that the airline hopes to have a "significant" proportion of its international operations up and running by the middle of next year, but much will depend on the vaccine. "We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say for international travelers, we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft," he says. Joyce says Qantas is looking into how people can be given a "vaccination passport."
"I think that’s going to be a common thing talking to my colleagues in other airlines around the globe," Joyce says. Australia, which closed its border to nonresidents in March and requires residents returning from overseas to stay in quarantine for two weeks, has reduced new COVID cases to almost zero, the BBC reports. Qantas has suspended all international flights except a few to New Zealand, which also has the pandemic under control, but it has started reopening routes between Australian states. After New South Wales reopened its border with Victoria on Monday, people at Sydney's airport held up signs saying, "Welcome back" as the first of at least 20 flights between the states landed. (Read more coronavirus stories.)