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Joyce offers free Qantas flights to drive up vaccination rates

written by Hannah Dowling | May 31, 2021
A Qantas 787-9, VH-ZNJ msn 7C806D, as shot by Victor Pody

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce announced a slew of new incentives for customers who get vaccinated, including the offering of unlimited free flights for a year for big-prize winners.

The newly announced prizes and incentives come just days after Qantas suggested it could offer loyalty points or vouchers as an incentive for Australians to get vaccinated, as the airline works to push up the country’s vaccination rates.

Vaccinated customers will be offered 1000 frequent flyer points, as well as the potential for travel vouchers and status credits.

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Additionally, Joyce said the airline would offer 10 “mega-prizes”, with at least one lucky winner from each state and territory.

The mega-prize would see a family of four receive free unlimited travel across the Qantas and Jetstar network for an entire year, as well as 1 million points to be used for hotel accommodation, donated by Qantas’ partner Accor.

“We are trying our best to help with this rollout,” Joyce said, speaking on Seven’s morning show Sunrise on Monday.

Incentives and prizes will begin to be offered from July, when Joyce said the required technology will be available.

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Vaccinated customers can apply to win these incentives through the airline’s app, once available.

Joyce added that prizes will be offered retrospectively, so anyone who has already had their vaccine can still apply, up until the end of 2021.

It is not yet clear what evidence will be required in order to prove vaccination status, or how this information will be verified.

The airline is advocating for more Australians to step up and take the jab, in an ambitious bid to see Australia’s international borders reopen by the end of this year.

“We want to do everything that we can to ensure the borders domestically open and stay open and that we get international up and running,” the airline chief said.

He noted that Qantas still has around 6,000 of its staff, dedicated to the airline’s international network, stood down.

“And they will be stood down until we have the international borders reopened,” Joyce added.

It follows the news that Qantas officially pushed back its intended start date for international routes from October to December.

“We are still planning to be ready at the end of this calendar year. We are activating the aircraft, we are training our crew, the government has given us a support package to do that and have asked us to be ready,” Joyce told Sunrise.

“I’m hopeful by the time we get to July-August we will have some certainty on which markets will open and when they will open, so we can give certainty to our travelling public and to our people about when they are going to be back at work.”

Notably, the federal government has said it does not expect international borders to open up until mid-2022.

Last week, Qantas first suggested that it could offer loyalty points or vouchers as an incentive for Australians to get vaccinated.

Qantas’ chief customer officer, Stephanie Tully, said, “We’re still thinking through how this would work, but the incentive could be Qantas points, Qantas or Jetstar flight vouchers, or status credits for frequent flyers.

“As a large company that relies on travel to put our people and planes back to work, we’re obviously motivated to help with the national vaccine effort.

“Qantas is a big supporter of Australia’s vaccine rollout because of what it means for public health, but also because it’s the key to keeping our domestic borders open and safely restarting international travel as well.”

The flag carrier has long been a strong advocate for vaccination, with chief executive Alan Joyce repeatedly pledging that all international passengers on long-haul flights will require a COVID vaccine to fly.

He said in December that the airline has made the decision because it has a “duty of care to our people” and it would put “safety ahead of popularity”.

“As the Prime Minister said, it will become a binary choice for international travellers to either get the vaccine or quarantine for two weeks. And quarantine places are very limited,” said Joyce.

“Our position on this is clear. We have a duty of care to our people and our passengers, and once a safe and effective vaccine becomes readily available, it will be a requirement for travel on our international services.

“There will be some exceptions for people who can’t – for medical reasons – take vaccines. And our flights to New Zealand will probably be exempt given their success at controlling COVID as well, just as domestic flights will be exempt.

“I acknowledge some people are opposed to vaccines in-principle. We respect that. But in return, we ask everyone who travels on Qantas and Jetstar to respect our safety protocols – which will include a COVID vaccine for international flights, at least until the pandemic is under control overseas.”

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