Asian nations could mandate Covid-19 shots for travellers, AirAsia chief says

Impending drug approvals have triggered a debate over their role in air travel.
Impending drug approvals have triggered a debate over their role in air travel.PHOTO: ST FILE

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Governments in Asia could require inbound travellers to receive Covid-19 vaccinations, AirAsia Group's chief executive officer said on Wednesday (Dec 9), with such conditions expected to become a trend in the region.

"I foresee in Asia anyway; I think they won't let anyone in without a vaccination," AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said at a Capa Centre for Aviation event.

Mr Fernandes said airlines are not likely to set such requirements for travellers.

"It's not up to the airlines to decide. It's for governments to decide. It will be the country that will decide if they will allow people to come in if they are not vaccinated," he said.

Aviation industry opposition to requiring mandatory Covid-19 vaccination for passengers has intensified as impending drug approvals trigger a debate over their role in air travel.

Qantas Airways was the first airline to say it will require a Covid-19 vaccination for passengers on future international flights, which are now mostly idle because of Australia's strict border controls.

"We believe that vaccinations will be required for entry to many countries in the future. And for a period of time, parallel requirements of (being) vaccinated or pre-flight negative tests," said Mr Todd Handcock, the Asia-Pacific president of Collinson Group, which owns Priority Pass airport lounges.