Last week, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce announced the airline would implement a policy barring anyone who has not had the COVID-19 vaccine from using their service.
“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say, for international travelers, that we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft,” he said.
This policy has since been backed up by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who said passengers who didn’t take the vaccine before entering Australia would be subject to two weeks quarantine.
Other airlines such as Korean Air have also signaled they will require vaccination, while the industry in general appears to be moving towards a digital ‘Common Pass’ that will carry details of vaccination status.
However, the backlash has already begun, with one travel agent in the UK announcing a blanket boycott of Qantas over its vaccine policy.about:blankabout:blank
Tradewinds Travel posted a statement on their website asserting that “bodily autonomy with regard to medical intervention is a personal choice and not something to be forced onto people by businesses.”
“We are not anti-vaccination but we are pro-choice. There is a huge difference between coercion and making a free choice,” says the statement.
The company also noted how Qantas “code share(s) flights with Emirates” to the far east and that Emirates has not announced it will follow the same policy, prompting the question, “We wonder if this has been discussed with Emirates prior to the announcement by Qantas?”
“Never before in the history of aviation has there been a requirement to have an injection before boarding a plane,” the statement adds.
“If Australia as a nation makes the decision to not allow entry to people without a vaccination then that is within their rights, and people can make an informed choice as to whether they wish to visit the country. But it is not up to an airline to enforce this upon customers.”
The company said it had received “much support” over its stance.
In a related development, European airliner Ryanair has signaled that it will not require fliers to take a coronavirus shot before allowing them to travel.
Chief executive Eddie Wilson pointed out that mandating a vaccine would be pointless since people can travel between different European countries by car or train.
“With short haul and freedom of movement of people in Europe… I think we’ll see an entirely different landscape come spring and early summer, not really relevant for short haul and European travel,” said Wilson.
“In Paris, if you were to choose no vaccination… you’d just get a train instead,” he added.