“No jab, no fly.” That’s what Air New Zealand is telling passengers who want to take international flights on its network from 2022. 

The airline said that from February 1, 2022, it will require customers traveling anywhere on its international network to be fully vaccinated. 

“Being vaccinated against COVID-19 is the new reality of international travel – many of the destinations Kiwis want to visit are already closed to unvaccinated visitors,” Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran commented in a statement on October 3, 2021. 

“The quicker we get vaccinated, the sooner we can fly Kiwis to places like New York, Vancouver and Narita,” Foran added. 

While a large number of airlines have introduced vaccination mandates for staff, very few have said they will also require passengers to be vaccinated. Qantas, from neighboring Australia, has said that it plans to transport only fully vaccinated passengers. Many countries, however, have fewer testing and quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated passengers. 

Both Australia and New Zealand - Aotearoa in Maori - have had some of the strictest border responses to the pandemic, with both countries swiftly moving to close borders and impose hotel quarantine schemes in order to prevent the virus from reaching their shores. 

Foran admitted the measure could cause some controversy. 

“As with anything, there will be some that disagree. However, we know this is the right thing to do to protect our people, our customers and the wider New Zealand community,” he noted. 

Air New Zealand said the vaccination requirement will apply to all passengers aged 18 and above, arriving or departing Aotearoa on an Air New Zealand aircraft. Exemptions will apply to those who can prove they are unable to be vaccinated due to medical reasons.

New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern has said New Zealand’s borders will remain closed for the rest of 2021, with a phased re-opening to start next year. 

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