Getting a Covid-19 vaccine could soon be a requirement to travel internationally, with one major airline already saying that vaccination will become a “necessity” to set foot on its aircraft in the future, while a project led by air industry trade body IATA  to create a “digital passport” proving vaccination enters its final stages.

On Monday, Australia’s flag carrier Quantas became the first major airline to state its intent to require international passengers to have received a Covid-19 vaccine as a condition of travelling.

Speaking to Nine News, CEO Alan Joyce said the airline will be changing its terms and conditions to make vaccination a “necessity” for anyone hoping to travel internationally, with domestic travel dependent on local conditions.

Based on conversations with colleagues around the world, Joyce believes the requirements “will be a common theme.”

It is a theme the industry is already preparing for – the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a major trade body, announced Monday that it is in the “final development phase” of a “digital health pass” that could authenticate Covid-19 testing and vaccination information for passengers.

It is developing the digital passport with International Airlines Group (IAG) – which is the parent company for a number of prominent airlines, including British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia — who declined to comment to Forbes on whether its airlines would also require vaccination.

KEY BACKGROUND

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, international travel has ground to a halt. Government advice against travelling, passenger reluctance and, in some instances, closed borders, have left the industry with few moves but to ask for government assistance. A vaccine is widely regarded as the most effective way of getting things back to normal, and the industry has buoyed in recent weeks with promising vaccine announcements from AstraZenecaPfizer and Moderna.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Quantas being the first to require vaccines is unsurprising given Australia has notoriously strict biosafety protocols, even before the pandemic, and has had a largely closed border throughout the crisis, leaving many of its citizens stranded abroad. The measures could set the stage for a much wider rollout across the industry, something which may prove to be unpopular given the number of high profile cases where passengers have refused to comply with mask requirements.

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