Something’s got to give: Airline CEO on vaccination passports, and the latest on Canada’s hotel quarantine rule

Something’s got to give: Airline CEO on vaccination passports, and the latest on Canada’s hotel quarantine rule

TORONTO — One of the first airline bosses to come out in favour of vaccination passports months ago now says governments will likely insist on vaccinations for international travel.

Speaking to the BBC, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said that in his view, “governments are going to insist” on vaccinations for travel abroad.

Back in fall 2020 Joyce was one of the first airline CEOs to get onboard with vaccination certification for travel. “We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say for international travellers, that we will ask people to have the vaccination before they get on the aircraft,” Joyce said in November 2020. 

At that time Joyce said Qantas was looking at ways to electronically verify that people have the necessary vaccine for their intended destination. “But certainly for international visitors coming out, and people leaving the country, we think that’s a necessity,” he said.

These days Qantas is assessing two digital health health certification apps – the IATA Travel Pass and CommonPass – as it prepares to restart regular international passenger flights to most of its pre-COVID destinations starting Oct. 31 2021.

Earlier this month Qantas ran its first customer trial of the CommonPass app on its international repatriation flight from Frankfurt to Darwin.

Governments are mulling vaccinations as a “condition of entry,” Joyce told the BBC.

Earlier this month the EC laid out its proposal for issuing ‘Digital Green Certificates’ that would allow EU residents to travel freely across the 27-nation bloc by summer 2021, as long as they have been vaccinated, tested negative for COVID-19 or have recovered from COVID.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated that Canada is “among those countries” exploring options surrounding vaccination passports. In the coming weeks the federal government’s science advisor is expected to submit feedback on if and how Canada should adopt vaccination passports.

Whether or not governments get onboard with vaccination passports, Joyce said Qantas will take a strong stance. “We have a duty of care to our passengers and our crew, to say that everybody in the aircraft needs to be safe,” Joyce told the BBC.




While vaccination passports have their detractors, few would argue that the travel industry and the world’s economies need a streamlined, standardized system that will help facilitate the restart of international flights and the reopening of global borders.

In the UK, after a frustrating summer for travellers and the travel industry that saw some destinations get the go-ahead for vacations, then get taken off the list with almost no notice, government officials are now discussing a ‘traffic light’ scenario. Approved destinations would get a green light, and so on. A similar system is used in Mexico for COVID.

However the UK is also said to be mulling over vaccination passports as well, after some initial pushback.

Meanwhile here in Canada, the Canadian Constitution Foundation yesterday lost its bid for an injunction against the federal government’s 3-day hotel quarantine policy.  

The CCF had argued in its legal application that the hotel quarantine requirements are “overbroad, arbitrary and grossly disproportionate.”

Interviewed recently by The Toronto Sun, Daniel Kerzner, Virgin Atlantic’s VP Customer Experience and a former hotel industry exec, said that with the lax security and hit-and-miss health and safety standards at the Toronto airport hotel where he completed his mandatory hotel quarantine, he would have been better off doing his entire 14-day quarantine at home.

Canada’s hotel quarantine rule, which went into effect Feb. 22, 2021, has been plagued by problems from the get-go, from hours-long hold times for the call centre, to allegations of sexual assault and concerns for public safety.

Get travel news right to your inbox!