Qantas has dropped its requirement that passengers on international flights should be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The announcement was widely expected after the federal government formally dropped its rule earlier this month.
“From Tuesday 19 July 2022, the Qantas Group will no longer require passengers on international flights operated by the Qantas Group to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” said the airline in a memo.
“Vaccination against COVID-19 may still be required by certain countries, so passengers should check the requirements of the country they are travelling to.
“Additionally, masks will continue to be required where government regulations stipulate they must be worn, including on board domestic flights in Australia.”
The outgoing federal rule led to a diplomatic incident earlier this year when tennis player Novak Djokovic was allowed into the country to play in the Australian Open, before being effectively deported a week later.
It comes after chief executive Alan Joyce criticised Australia’s decision to keep mask mandates on inbound international flights.
Speaking on 2GB radio, Joyce said Australia was “a little behind the curve” on the restrictions, which bizarrely means those flying from Sydney to London don’t require face coverings, but those coming the other way do.
“I think every airline would be encouraging the federal government to move on as soon as they can,” Joyce said.
Currently, international passengers are bound by the rules set by the country they are flying into, while domestically, masks are required in the air but not on the ground at airports.
“I’ve gone back to Europe to North America a few times and I’m wearing the mask for 17 hours. It is not very comfortable. And people know that,” said Joyce.
“In the United States and around Europe, the mask mandates have been dropped.
“We’ve had a change of government and we had to wait for the election to change with a new government in place and a new federal transport minister in place. I talked to her about this and we’re hoping to make progress pretty soon.”