Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka says she expects vaccination to be mandatory for some interstate travel as states exit lockdown and reopen their borders in the months ahead.
While almost all international flights will require passengers to prove they have been fully vaccinated – typically through smartphone apps such as the Travel Pass, which can also verify the results of pre-flight Covid tests – the notion of a 'vaccination passport' for domestic flights remains contentious.
While Prime Minister Scott Morrison has championed vaccine passports as the key to unrestricted domestic travel, the premiers of NSW and Queensland – along with several federal politicians within Morrison's own government – have spoken out against the concept.
However, speaking at a Trans-Tasman Business Circle event today, Hrdlicka said for Virgin's domestic travellers "in November and December (there) will need to be verification of vaccination.'
"That's my expectation – it's not been mandated yet by the Government, but I would expect that there will be some constraints with respect to first movements as borders come down."
In that same scenario "everybody is wearing a mask inside the airport and on board the aircraft, and I don't expect that will change for some time."
Hrdlicka, who was speaking from one of Virgin's still-shuttered invitation-only Club lounges, added that "for those of you who are Club members, the Club lounges will be opening once the borders start to come down... our lounges are going to be open for business, full of great food and a lot of fun."
(Hrdlicka has previously said the Club lounges at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane would reopen "no later than the end of March 2022" as border restrictions eased, and that the airline was "committed to reopening these Club lounges earlier if borders and demand conditions allow.")
Get jabbed to skip state lockdowns?
PM Morrison has backed vaccination passports for quarantine-free domestic trips as a way that fully-vaccinated travellers could cross state borders in the event of subsequent lockdowns.
"Where people have been vaccinated, then they would have the opportunity, let's say they happen to be in another state, then they can return home to Victoria and not be kept out of their home state, or they may be able to move into other states and territories,” he suggested in May.
"I think that's something that Australians would support and I think it recognises the reality that states and territories, from time to time, will be making decisions which will restrict movements of Australians across the country."
That's put him at odds with fellow Liberal and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who argues that once the country reaches a vaccination rate of 80%, Australians should be able to move freely around the country irrespective of whether or not they have been vaccinated.
Digital vaccination cards are already being suggested for access to restaurants, shops and services, theatres, gyms and events once NSW exits lockdown in October.
ET readers: would you support proof of vaccination as a requirement for some domestic flights?