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Air New Zealand, Qantas will require proof of COVID vaccination

TORONTO — As Australia and New Zealand move closer to reopening, the flag carriers for both countries have announced new ‘no jab, no fly’ policies for passengers.

This past weekend Air New Zealand announced that starting Feb. 1, 2022, the airline will require customers travelling anywhere on its international network to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19

The new requirement will apply to all passengers aged 18 and older arriving or departing New Zealand on an Air New Zealand aircraft. Customers who are not vaccinated will be required to present proof that vaccination was not a viable option for them for medical reasons.

“We’re getting ready to reconnect with the world and letting customers know what they need to do to be ready to take off when we can,” said Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran.

“Being vaccinated against COVID-19 is the new reality of international travel –many of the destinations Kiwis want to visit are already closed to unvaccinated visitors. The quicker we get vaccinated, the sooner we can fly Kiwis to places like New York, Vancouver and Narita.”

Foran said the airline has been hearing from both customers and employees about the importance of this measure. “It came through loud and clear in our recent consultation process with employees and we want to do everything we can to protect them. 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,” he said, adding “it’s not just customers who will be required to be vaccinated – it’s everyone on board an Air New Zealand aircraft travelling internationally, adding to the health and safety measures we already have in place.”

Foran acknowledged that not everyone will be onboard with the new policy at first. “As with anything, there will be some that disagree. However, we know this is the right thing to do to protect our people, our customers and the wider New Zealand community. We’ll spend the next few months making sure we get this right, ensuring it works as smoothly as possible for our customers. This also gives anyone wanting to travel from next year plenty of time to get their vaccination,” he said.

Air New Zealand is also continuing to work on rolling out the IATA Travel Pass app.

Meanwhile Qantas announced last month that it would require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all passengers flying on international routes. The airline is aiming to begin resuming overseas flights by the end of the year.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has long been a proponent of mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for passengers. Back in November 2020 Joyce said that once vaccines became widely available, his carrier would likely require passengers to provide proof of vaccination before they can travel abroad or land in Australia.

Here in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that in the coming weeks the federal government will make good on plans to mandate proof of vaccination for all air, rail and cruise ship passengers.