Airline chiefs downplay calls for vaccination passports

Airline leaders have downplayed talk of vaccination passports with Virgin Atlantic chief executive Shai Weiss insisting a relaxation of border restrictions “should not be discriminatory”.

Speaking as UK airline chiefs united to urge the UK government to include aviation in a roadmap for re-opening the economy expected on Monday, Weiss said: “Those who have not had a vaccine should not face a barrier to travel.”

Asked whether he supports calls for vaccination passports, Weiss said: “I don’t think we should call it a vaccination passport but a digital health app because it should also check whether you booked a test.

“If you don’t have a vaccine it should not be a barrier so long as you accept there will be other restrictions. It should not be discriminatory.

“It’s not really a vaccine passport. It’s a digital health app which is being developed by multiple parties for verification of testing and vaccination to minimise border delays.

“Apps are being tested by a number of providers – Iata is behind one of them.”

He added: “We must integrate digital health certification [because] check-in is taking three to four times what it does normally.”

Weiss argued: “We expect to see favourable conditions for re-opening skies by the summer.

“A risk-based framework should be developed eventually to remove restrictions all together. ”

Jet2 chief executive Steve Heapy said: “If vaccination passports are what it takes to get going, then that is what we have to do. [But] it worries me slightly given the record of IT systems.”

He insisted: “Restrictions will have to fall away.”

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “We are not against measures to protect health and safety. We would not want to see restrictions removed if it causes a rise in infections and brings another lockdown.”

Weiss agreed: “We should be very cautious with variations and new strains [of the virus].”

Asked whether airlines would require crew be vaccinated, Weiss said: “An individual’s right to govern their own body is essential.

“We will do everything to promote vaccination, but to say if you don’t have a jab you don’t have a job would be wrong.”

Share article

View Comments

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.