Ryanair is encouraging holiday-hungry travellers to book their summer holidays now with the promise that vaccines against the COVID-19 virus will reopen borders by the middle of 2021. A new television campaign tells travellers to “jab and go!”, suggesting that Ryanair believes vaccination against the novel Coronavirus will be a pre-requisite to fly as travel restrictions are slowly eased.
So far, only one airline has openly said it will demand proof of vaccination to transport people on international flights. Australian flag carrier Qantas came in for criticism when it proposed a ‘no jab, no fly’ policy but chief executive Alan Joyce doubled down on the policy, saying anti-vaxxers will have to find another airline to fly with if they don’t want to have a vaccine to protect them (and potentially others) from COVID-19.
Many airlines, however, are still sitting on the fence on whether vaccination should be a pre-condition of travel, although Delta chief executive Ed Bastian believes proof of vaccination may well be needed for long-haul international services.
Despite multiple vaccines now being rolled out around the world, no country has yet ruled that travellers will be needed to be vaccinated in order to be allowed entry. Countries and territories like Australia and New Zealand, as well as Hong Kong are most likely to impose conditions that include mandatory vaccination.
The aviation industry is currently working on a number of initiatives to verify a passenger’s vaccination status, including hi-tech digital passports that can securely record vaccine records as well as the status of pre or post travel COVID testing.
Unfortunately, there’s not yet any internationally agreed standard and it’s not known whether some countries might only accept certain vaccines like the Pfizer / BionTech jab that has an efficacy rate of around 90 per cent.
“As soon as the COVID-19 virus recedes – and it will in 2021 with the rollout of multiple effective vaccines – Ryanair and our partner airports across Europe will… rapidly restore flights and schedules, recover lost traffic and help the nations of Europe recover their tourism industry, and get young people back to work across the cities, beaches, and ski resorts of the EU,” commented Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary earlier this month.
So confident is O’Leary, in fact, that Ryanair recently signed an order for an additional 75 Boeing 737 MAX-8200 aircraft bringing the airline’s total order for the “gamechanger” planes to 210.
Ryanair should start taking delivery of the planes early next year, although don’t expect the recovery to have got underway in the first few months of 2021. Instead, Ryanair plans to ground older, less fuel-efficient planes until travel demand returns.