'It's child abuse': Qantas facing boycott over proposed compulsory COVID-19 vaccination

Qantas is facing a boycott by people who disagree with comments by the airline's boss around requiring people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to travel on international flights.

Speaking on Australian TV show A Current Affair, the airline's CEO Alan Joyce said COVID-19 said he would be changing the terms and conditions of Qantas travel to make vaccinations compulsory once international travel takes off again.

He also said he expects many airlines around the world will also bring the new rule into place.

Joyce is now facing fierce criticism online, with a #BoycottQantas social media campaign being launched less than 24 hours after his comments made headlines.

On Twitter, Andrea Levy posted a message that referenced Star Wars about the Qantas announcement.

"I keep saying it but I really think they all underestimated the resistance. Nobody was anti vax until this year! Ticketmaster backtracked within 24 hours. #boycottqantas is trending. We'll win," she said.

Another user said they would fight both airlines and the government for freedom.

"Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says #COVID19 vaccines 'are a necessity for international air travel'. Make no mistake, we will fight these proposals between now and throughout 2021. Airlines or government don't get the final word on our freedom. We do," they said.

British psychologist and TV presenter Emma Kenny posted a video.

"Around 20,000 people are damaged by vaccines, meaning that, compared to the number of children damaged by COVID, there is no comparison. Vaccines will damage more children than they will help. So, Qantas are advocating for the wilful harm of children. Is that what they want next year's strapline to be?" she said.

"Really bad marketing strategy. Do your research. Mandated vaccines mean child abuse, pure and simple."

Comments on the Newshub Travel Facebook Group also criticised the move.

"There are those that believe and those that don't. Believers fly Qantas, others fly elsewhere. Simple. It's about having choices. Don't impose what you believe on others. Unless of course we are totally uneducated on the matter," one comment read.

Another member called Dave added: "If you are immune compromised then this would be the best airline to fly on for sure."

One travel company has latched onto the backlash as a business opportunity, announcing it would no longer book its passengers on Qantas flights.

"We have made a company decision today to not sell any Qantas flights, even on a code share, following their announcement of no vaccination, no flight. There are far superior airlines with flights to #Australia," the TradeWinds Travel post said.

On Tuesday, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced it's in the final development phase of an IATA Travel Pass - a digital health pass that will support the safe reopening of borders.  

"Today borders are double locked. Testing is the first key to enable international travel without quarantine measures," said IATA boss Alexandre de Juniac. 

Aviation experts have backed Joyce's statement, saying most airlines around the world would be putting in vaccine rules similar to Qantas in order to get back in the air faster.