Qantas calls for masks to be scrapped on international flights
Qantas to remove face mask rules for thousands of passengers on some international flights – after two-year mandate for airport terminals was lifted
- Qantas has called for the lifting of mask mandates for some international flights
- Masks in Australian airport terminals will no longer be mandatory from Saturday
- Qantas says masks should be optional for countries where they are not required
Travelers flying with Qantas will soon be able to go on some international flights without a mask.
From Saturday, masks will no longer be mandatory in airport terminals on the recommendation of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).
While masks are still mandatory on flights, Qantas hopes to go one step further and relax the rules around face coverings altogether.
This would allow travelers to travel mask-free on flights to foreign destinations where masks are not mandatory.
“Global studies show that the risk of transmission in aircraft cabins is very low because the air is refreshed every few minutes, in addition to forward-facing seats and HEPA filters that capture 99 percent of particulate matter,” a spokesperson said.
“The Qantas Group plans to update our in-flight mask policy for international flights shortly to align with destination regulations.
“For some outbound international flights where masks are not mandatory at the destination, such as flights to the US, UK and Europe, this means masks are no longer mandatory on board.”
Travelers flying with Qantas may no longer need to wear a mask on international flights
The changes may require passengers to wear masks for certain parts of their flights.
“We will continue to make masks available on board all our flights and we understand that some customers may want to continue wearing them during their journey, regardless of the international regulations that apply,” Qantas added.
Qantas passengers traveling abroad must still show proof of vaccination.
The AHPCC said it will provide further advice on in-flight mask mandates in the future.
Health Secretary Mark Butler and Infrastructure Secretary Catherine King said they “expect the traveling public to notice the change of masks at airports in the days following Friday” as states and territories make changes to their public health regulations.
Wearing a mask at Australian airports will no longer be mandatory from Friday. Pictured are passengers checking in at Melbourne Airport on Friday, June 10, 2022
“This amended advice comes after the AHPPC has assessed the current Covid-19 situation in Australia and finds it no longer proportionate to mandate the wearing of masks in terminals,” the ministers said in a joint statement.
They said AHPPC had noted “all states and territories have relaxed mask mandates in most community settings.”
Australians are recommended by AHPPC to continue wearing masks as an important measure to minimize the spread of Covid and flu.
“Masks help us protect the most vulnerable in our community who cannot be vaccinated and those who are at higher risk of developing serious disease,” the ministers said.
The European Union stopped enforcing the wearing of masks on flights in May, although the application of the rule change belonged to individual member states.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said it hoped the discarding of masks would be “a major step forward in the normalization of air traffic.”
The move was taken after considering vaccination levels and naturally acquired immunity, as well as the lifting of restrictions in a growing number of European countries.
EASA Director Patrick Ky warned that passengers are still required to behave responsibly.
“A passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those sitting nearby,” he said.
Airlines welcomed the changes and called for a consistent approach to mask mandates.
“We believe that mask requirements on aircraft should end when masks are no longer required in other areas of everyday life, for example theatres, offices or on public transport,” said Willie Walsh, director general of International Air Transportation Association.
Australia’s relaxation of the rules will be welcomed by Australian airport operators who have called for the mandate to be lifted.
From Monday 16 May, wearing face masks on flights in Europe will no longer be mandatory. Depicted are people in an airplane