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Last Updated : Nov 16, 2020 10:15 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

COVID-19 impact | Australian flights to US, Europe won't resume until late 2021: Qantas CEO Alan Joyce

At present, the travel bubble with New Zealand is one way, but Joyce hopes to get that in both directions.

Australian airline Qantas’ Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce has said flights to international destinations would not resume until a vaccine against the novel coronavirus infection became available. Also, flights from Australia to Europe and the United States, where the numbers of new COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, are unlikely until the end of 2021, he said.

“Unfortunately with the levels of the virus in the United States and in Europe, we're not going to see operations to those destinations in any real strength until we see a vaccine being rolled out, which is likely towards the end of 2021,” Joyce told to The Daily Mail.

However, there is still hope for jet setters who want to travel to some overseas destinations, with Joyce suggesting that the Australian government develop travel bubbles with other nations, similar to the one currently in place with New Zealand, said the report.


At present, the travel bubble with New Zealand is one way, but Joyce hopes to get that in both directions. “With New Zealand, it's a one-way travel bubble. Hopefully, we can get that in both directions. That's a massive market,” Joyce told the media house.

COVID-19 Vaccine

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A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

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There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

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Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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New Zealand was the second-highest tourism market into Australia before the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

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Joyce further hoped that these travel bubbles could be established with countries that have managed to contain the novel coronavirus, such as Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. “We haven't flown to Korea and Taiwan in decades but we'd put services back into those destinations if we could,” the CEO was quoted as saying.

Joyce also suggested that a “standard approach” was required to establish acceptable levels of viral spread before a border is required to close, rather than individual states making such decisions with autonomy. “I think we need a standard approach across the country about what are the levels when a border does open and when they do close, instead of having these ad hoc rules across the country when everybody's taken a different approach on it,” he said, adding that Australians would have to learn to live with this virus, as per the report.

The airline would return to 60 percent capacity of its pre-COVID-19 domestic schedule by Christmas, Joyce hoped.

The Australian state of South Australia reported 14 new coronavirus cases on November 16, which prompted a neighbouring state to reimpose border controls and the federal government to offer help. The cases raised concerns of a new outbreak, reported news agency Reuters.

Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.
First Published on Nov 16, 2020 10:15 am