Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has reiterated that the airline will ban unvaccinated passengers from international flights when borders reopen and hopes this will happen in December.
Speaking to the Trans-Tasman Business Circle in the latest in a series on vaccination, Mr Joyce said the airline would introduce a policy that would require proof of vaccination before flying.
"Qantas will have a policy that internationally we'll only be carrying vaccinated passengers," he said. "Because we think that's going to be one of the requirements to show that you're flying safe and getting into those countries. We're hoping that can happen by Christmas."
Mr Joyce had previously flagged passengers would need to be vaccinated to board international flights last year, before Australia's vaccine rollout began.
The airline announced last month it would make vaccinations mandatory for its 22,000 staff, citing a staff survey that found overwhelming support for vaccines.
Qantas and Jetstar will require frontline staff to be double-vaccinated by November 15 and office staff to be double vaccinated by the end of March. Medical exemptions will be granted.
"We think everybody should be protecting themselves, but we also have a requirement to protect our colleagues and our passengers. And then there's also a requirement to protect the community," Mr Joyce said, citing the example of Longreach in outback Queensland, which put 100 residents into isolation after a COVID-19-positive cabin crew member flew there.
Qantas launched an incentive program to get vaccinated, offering fully-vaccinated members of the airline's frequent flyer program the choice of 1000 frequent flyer points, 15 status credits or a $20 flight discount voucher (for use with Qantas or Jetstar).
Mr Joyce said 300,000 people had already claimed their reward, with 75 per cent of them choosing to receive the 1000 frequent flyer points. He said the airline had given out 220 million points already.
Rival Virgin Australia has also launched a vaccine incentive competition, with various prizes including a grand prize of 1 million frequent flyer points. The airline reported that 100,000 people had entered within a day of the competition launching. Virgin has also announced compulsory vaccination for staff.
Mr Joyce said borders should open once 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated and expected international travel to resume to other highly vaccinated countries like the UK, US, Canada, Japan, Singapore and Fiji.
"We'll probably try a lot of new routes internationally, and as certain borders will open up and others won't," he said though he didn't indicate which routes these might be.
He said Australians needed to be able to start travelling again by Christmas.
"The population needs it. I think people want to connect together, people want to see family again. People want to do business again. There's a lot of very important reasons why we should start opening up when we meet those key targets on the vaccination plan," he said.
The federal government has announced the introduction of a vaccine passport for Australians to prove their vaccination status overseas.
However, he took a swipe at the governments of Queensland and Western Australia which have indicated they may deviate from the national plan for reopening.
"Unfortunately I think there's one or two states that are taking a more conservative view on that, and departing from the national plan. We might get into a situation where from Sydney you can visit your relatives in London, maybe Dublin, but you can't visit your relatives in Perth, or maybe Cairns.
"That'd be sad if we got to that, and hopefully we get everybody to keep to the national plan, the national cabinet plan, which is everybody can get together at Christmas domestically and internationally."
The airline revealed it has seen searches for international flights triple since it announced plans for restarting international flights, with the most popular routes to London, Los Angeles, Singapore and Tokyo.