AirAsia CEO: Asian govts could make COVID-19 vaccination a travel requirement

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes has said that governments in Asia could require inbound travellers to receive COVID-19 vaccination. He shared this view during a CAPA Centre for Aviation event.

The low cost carrier CEO said he foresee this trend in Asia and countries won’t let anyone in without a vaccination. He said the decision won’t be up to the airlines and it’s for governments to decide. He said the countries will have to decide if they would allow people to come in if they are not vaccinated.

According to Reuters, the aviation industry has opposed making mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations a requirement for passengers as impending drug approvals trigger a debate over their role in air travel. At the moment, there are 13 vaccines which are in the final stages of testing. The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been approved in the UK and they have began administering the vaccine to the public.

Several weeks ago, Alan Joyce, the CEO of Australian flag carrier, Qantas has said that future international travellers would need to prove that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 before flying. He added that it is likely that other airlines would follow suit but IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac said that the policy is a bit premature at the moment.

The travel industry is badly hit due to the pandemic as most countries have closed their borders to reduce the number of imported cases. Singapore and Hong Kong have recently announced a travel bubble which was supposed to start from 22nd November. However, the travel bubble between the two countries has been postponed to next year as there’s a surge of unlinked new COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong.

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In Malaysia, airlines can breathe a sigh of relief as the government has lifted restrictions on interstate travel effective 7th December 2020. To promote domestic tourism, the government has offered travel subsidy in the form of eVouchers which can be redeemed via local airlines.

However, do note that state governments may impose their own restrictions for incoming visitors. The Sarawak state government currently bans non-Sarawakians from entering the state via Sabah and Labuan until further notice. For other visitors, a mandatory 14-day quarantine at designated centres is still required.

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Alexander Wong