Qantas has published a statement making clear its stance on Covid-19 vaccinations for aviation workers.

The group said that “Aviation revolves around safety”, adding that “If there is something we, as an industry, can reasonably do to lower risk, we do it”.

Qantas said it had “strongly encouraged our people to get vaccinated”, offering paid time off for staff to get the jab, and said that it had lobbied government for priority access to the vaccine for aviation workers.

The group said it believed vaccination “should be a requirement for all aviation workers in Australia”, and pointed to moves by the New South Wales and South Australia governments to make vaccination mandatory for all aviation workers supporting international services.

But it warned that “without a national approach we’ll wind up with a patchwork of rules between the borders that our people cross multiple times a day”.

“While all the data shows that the risk of Covid transmission onboard aircraft remains very low, and there are many safeguards at airports, nothing reduces the risk to health like the vaccines approved for use in Australia,” said the statement.

“That’s critical for our frontline teams, who come into contact with thousands of people each day. The Qantas Group is responsible for an essential service, meaning that we need to guard against severe disruptions. We’ve seen that just one Covid positive employee can inadvertently shut down a freight facility or passenger terminal, which can have a big impact on the broader community and economy.

“We understand there are a lot of complicating factors for our people – including access to the vaccine and those who don’t want the vaccine or still have unanswered questions about it. But we need to find a path through those challenges if aviation is to return to normal.”

Meanwhile Qantas Group has confirmed that it will roll out the IATA Travel Pass when Qantas and Jetstar international flights resume, following trials of “several digital solutions” on international repatriation flights.

Major carriers worldwide have either trialled or adopted the IATA Travel Pass in recent months, including British Airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines.

Qantas said that “The IATA Travel Pass offers a convenient and secure method for customers to verify COVID test results and vaccination information with border or health officials and airline staff”, adding that “Importantly, the IATA Travel Pass matches a customer’s health information against a specific flight, checks the entry requirements for the country they are travelling to and provides clearance to travel on that flight, to both the customer and airline”.

“We want to get our international flights back in the air and our people back to work and a digital health pass will be a key part of that,” said Qantas Group chief customer officer, Stephanie Tully.

“Many Governments are already requiring proof of vaccine or a negative Covid test result for international travel. Even if it wasn’t a government requirement, Qantas has always been a leader in safety and we have a responsibility to our customers and crew.

“A digital health pass will connect customers with Covid testing facilities, health authorities and airlines, and ultimately enable the opening of more travel bubbles and borders.

“The IATA Travel Pass will allow travellers to have their Covid test results and vaccine information verified securely, which will be their green light to fly internationally with us.

“We’re working closely with IATA to develop their Travel Pass to make the process as seamless as possible for Qantas and Jetstar customers as international borders start to re-open.”

In May Qantas announced it had pushed back the planned resumption of international flights until late December 2021, citing the Federal Government’s revised timelines for the completion of Australia’s vaccine rollout.

Qantas postpones resumption of international flights to December