Air New Zealand allows only fully vaccinated passengers on board its aircraft when it resumes international services. The airline said on October 3 that it will introduce the ‘no jab, no fly’-policy as being vaccinated is the new reality of international air travel.
The New Zealand government has followed a strict policy of lockdowns and border closures since the Covid-virus has spread worldwide from early 2020 onwards. The policy from the Ardern Administration was effective as it kept the number of Covid cases low, albeit at the price of very strict lockdowns even when only a single case emerged. In the past months, New Zealand relaxed some restrictions and now plans to open up for international air travel by early 2022 again.
Air New Zealand, which has been hit hard by eighteen months of bordure closures, announced that its vaccinated-only policy for all travelers aged 18+ will become effective from February 1. Unvaccinated passengers have to present proof that vaccination was not possible for medical reasons. “The quicker we get vaccinated, the sooner we can fly Kiwis to places like New York, Vancouver, and Narita”, CEO Greg Foran says in a media statement.
“It’s not just customers who will be required to be vaccinated”, says Foran: “It’s everybody on board an Air New Zealand aircraft traveling internationally, adding to the health and safety measures we already have in place. (…) 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.”
Growing debate on vaccination requirements
ANZ’s announcement to allows only fully vaccinated pax comes at the time of growing public debate on vaccination requirements in air travel. Qantas said last week too that it will allow only fully-vaccinated passengers on board when it resumes international services by mid-November. The US government announced a new travel policy system in September that requires proof of vaccination of all who wish to enter the country from November.
The vaccination debate also rages within airlines. United Airlines said last week That 593 cockpit and cabin crew face termination of their contracts as they are unwilling to comply with the carrier’s Covid policy of getting vaccinated. United requested vaccination by October 1. Some 2.000 employees sought exemption for religious or medical reasons.
Other US carriers said they have implemented restrictions to unvaccinated staff, like requesting them to take leave or report sick on their own expenses if they are unable to comply. Cathay Pacific is operating its flights with vaccinated staff since September 1 and has terminated contracts with those unwilling to follow its requirements.