As Australia and New Zealand prepare to open their borders, new rules around vaccination and international air travel are set to be introduced by the countries’ major airlines.
After an 18-month ban, Australia will begin reopening its borders from the beginning of November 2021, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced in early October. The international border will reopen for Australian states that have reached 80 per cent vaccination, beginning with New South Wales.
New Zealand, currently dealing with the Delta outbreak, is yet to set a date for the reopening of the border. In early August, the government announced a staged border reopening beginning in early 2022, which will group travellers into low, medium and high risk.
What are the latest rules around air travel for New Zealand and Australian airlines?
On 3 October, Air New Zealand announced they will be introducing a ‘no jab, no fly’ policy for international travellers. All passengers and staff travelling in their international network will be required to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
“Mandating vaccination on our international flights will give both customers and employees the peace of mind that everyone onboard meets the same health requirements as they do,” said Air New Zealand’s CEO Greg Foran in a statement.
Qantas Group, which includes Jetstar, has also announced a ‘no jab, no fly’ policy, requiring all passengers and staff flying overseas to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Virgin Australia has yet to introduce a vaccination requirement for passengers, but will require all staff to be vaccinated by 15 November 2021.
When will it come into effect?
Air New Zealand’s vaccination policy will come into effect from February 2022. Qantas’ vaccination policy will come into effect from 14 November 2021.
How will this be managed?
Both Air New Zealand and Qantas have said they will be using the International Air Transport Associations (IATA) Travel Pass app for managing the vaccination policy. The IATA Travel Pass is a mobile app that allows customers to store and manage their verified certifications for COVID-19 tests or vaccines.
To protect passenger data privacy, the Travel Pass app has no central database, meaning passengers have discretion about whether they share their data or not, and can delete the data at any time with the knowledge that it won’t be stored.
Other airlines which are trialling the IATA Travel Pass app include Qatar Airways, Emirates, British Airways, Air France and Singapore Airlines.
The app will likely be connected to New Zealand and Australia’s official vaccine certificates, which are being rolled out in both countries in the coming weeks.
Who does it apply to?
Air New Zealand’s vaccination policy applies to passengers aged 18 and over, who are arriving or departing New Zealand on their airline. People who wish to travel internationally with the airline who haven’t been vaccinated will have to provide proof of medical exemptions for not being vaccinated.
Qantas are finalising details about the minimum age for vaccinated traveller. At this stage, the airline says “Australian citizens and permanent residents who cannot be vaccinated – for example if they are under 12 or have a medical condition – will be treated as vaccinated for the purposes of their travel.”
What about domestic travel?
Neither Air New Zealand nor Qantas have said they will mandate vaccinations for domestic passengers.
“We have a lot of logistical and other issues to resolve on domestic and we have to figure a lot of the logistical issues around this and we have not made any decisions as of yet,” said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.