Qantas to lift mask requirement on some international flights

Qantas says it will soon allow passengers to travel without masks on some international flights, even though face coverings remain compulsory on all domestic services.

Australian airports are set to remove mask requirements from Saturday after state and territory chief health officers recommended on Tuesday that mandates were “no longer proportionate” for terminals given masks were optional in most other public settings.

Qantas is among countless airlines with 737-800s. Pictured here, a Qantas Boeing 737-800 flight from Adelaide lands in Sydney in September 2020.Credit:Getty

A Qantas spokesman said on Wednesday that the next step should be to follow many other countries by removing the state, territory and federal laws making masks compulsory on domestic and in-bound international flights.

Meanwhile, he said the airline would soon lift the requirement to wear a mask on flights to foreign destinations where they were optional, including the USA, UK and Europe. The change means some passengers will need to wear masks on some legs of their journeys – such as a domestic connection or stop-over in Singapore en route to London – but not others.

“We appreciate some of our customers may find mask requirements confusing, particularly when they have connecting flights, and we’re doing our best to help them prepare for their flights,” the Qantas spokesman said.

“Studies show the risk of transmission inside aircraft cabins is very low due to the air being refreshed every few minutes, in addition to forward-facing seats and HEPA filters which capture 99 per cent of airborne particles.”

The aviation industry says there is a low risk of catching COVID-19 on a plane because of their air filtration systems, with a Boeing study finding that sitting next to someone who coughs on a plane is the same as sitting two metres away from them inside a building.

However a study published in the Journal of Travel Medicine last year found that wearing masks “significantly” reduce the risk even further.

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