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Qantas CEO says airline will require passengers traveling internationally to get COVID-19 vaccine

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Millions stick to Thanksgiving travel plans despite urgent COVID-19 warnings 03:59

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the airline is planning to require passengers traveling internationally to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 after the vaccinations become available to the public. In an interview with Australian broadcaster 9 Network, Joyce said Monday that the company is looking to change its terms and conditions to ensure travelers get vaccinated before getting on the aircraft. 

"Whether you'll need that domestically, we'll have to see what happens with COVID-19 and the market, but certainly for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country, we think that's a necessity," he said. 

Other airlines across the world are looking to adopt similar measures, according to Joyce. "I'm talking to my colleagues in other airlines around the globe and I think it's going to be a common theme across the board," he said.

Joyce's remarks come as three COVID-19 vaccines with positive trial test results have emerged. Pfizer, one of the vaccine makers, became the first to seek emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week. 

A spokesperson for Airlines for America, an industry trade group representing major North American airlines, told CBS News in a statement on Tuesday that they're "committed to restoring service in a manner that prioritizes safety and wellbeing of our passengers and employees," but did not comment on a potential vaccine requirement. 

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 A Qantas Boeing 737-800 aircraft takes off at Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport on November 16.  / Getty Images

Verifying passengers' documentation on vaccines is another incoming logistics hurdle. Joyce said they're considering electronic vaccination passports that certify what the vaccine is and whether it is acceptable in the country where a passenger to flying to.

"So, there's a lot of logistics, a lot of technology, that will be needed to put in place to make this happen, but the airlines and the governments are working on this as we speak," he said. 

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the body representing airlines globally, announced Monday that a digital health pass, which could include passengers' COVID-19 testing and vaccine information, is in its final development phase and it is set to be available in early 2021. The tool will support the "safe reopening of borders," according to IATA. 

The airlines association called for systematic COVID-19 testing for all international travelers. It is also recommending an infrastructure that allows governments to verify tests, airlines to provide accurate information on test requirements for customers and laboratories to issue accepted digital certificates. 

Despite the CDC urging people to stay home for Thanksgiving, millions are already on the road or in the air traveling for the holiday. Experts say it's inevitable that the number of coronavirus cases will soon rise even more than it has already. 

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