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Qantas eyes vaccines for overseas flights

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Qantas is set to make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for all international travellers when Australia’s borders reopen.

The airline’s boss Alan Joyce has flagged mirroring requirements in Israel, Iceland and some European countries when overseas travel returns on a larger scale.

“Internationally we absolutely will and that’s becoming a standard around the world,” he told ABC radio on Thursday.

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Mr Joyce said he started lobbying governments in March to put his workers in a high priority category for immunisation.

“We believe that COVID vaccination should be a requirement for all aviation workers,” he said.

The company is surveying its workers to determine how many have had the jab.

The Transport Workers’ Union is calling for Qantas to ensure all workers in the company’s supply chain are immunised without losing pay.

A TWU survey of 800 aviation workers showed a third were fully vaccinated while many had trouble getting access to the jab.

Union secretary Michael Kaine accused Qantas of acting like a dictator over a problem that should have been solved by the federal government.

“The problem is not that workers aren’t getting vaccinated,” he said.

“The problem is that many workers either can’t get access to the vaccine or are finding that when booking vaccine appointments in advance they risk losing work ahead of rosters getting published.”

RELATED:  Only 1.6 per cent of people living in disability care have been fully vaccinated

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is opposed to mandatory vaccinations and warned companies could be breaking employment laws if it became a requirement.

“It’s the wrong decision for Australia. It’s just not how we do things,” he told Melbourne radio 3AW.

Mr Morrison believes high vaccination rates will be achieved without forcing people to have the jab.

“You can’t make compulsory things that aren’t able to be made compulsory under our laws,” he said.

“Any decisions that companies make have to be consistent with our laws and particularly our employment laws.”

Federal and state governments have already agreed to make vaccinations mandatory for aged-care workers because of the high risk more residents will die if another outbreak hit nursing homes.

The Qantas chief executive has also flagged more repatriation flights from a wide range of locations, including Istanbul and Islamabad.

Mr Joyce said a voyage from Santiago to Darwin would be one of the longest flights the airline had conducted.

-AAP

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