In a bold bid to spur on Australia’s Covid-19 vaccination drive, major airline Qantas is flirting with the idea of offering free frequent flyer points as an incentive to get the jab.
In a statement by the country’s largest airline group, Qantas announced it was “considering” offering rewards to people who get both shots of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca.
Qantas chief customer officer Stephanie Tully said the unfolding outbreak in Melbourne had highlighted the urgency of the need to get vaccinated so domestic borders could confidently remain open and the country could begin looking at easing international restrictions.
“Qantas is a big supporter of Australia’s vaccine rollout because of what it means for public health, but also because it’s the key to keeping our domestic borders open and safely restarting international travel as well,” she said.
“As a large company that relies on travel to put our people and planes back to work, we’re obviously motivated to help with the national vaccine effort.”
The airline said the details of a potential package were still being assessed but may include a flight voucher, bonus frequent flyer or status points.
“We’re still thinking through how this would work, but the incentive could be Qantas points, Qantas or Jetstar flight vouchers, or status credits for frequent flyers,” Ms Tully said.
It is understood up to 1000 frequent flyer points could be offered and would be retrospective, meaning someone who had received their vaccine already could still claim the reward.
Qantas’ push to revive overseas travel hinges on Australia’s vaccination effort, with the airline already delaying its intended start date for international flights from October to December.
The federal government revealed in the May budget it expects borders to be opened by the middle of 2022.
Qantas pointed to recent research showing Australia’s success in stopping community transmission had lowered the sense of urgency to be vaccinated.
Australia’s chief medical officer has flagged the need for incentives to boost the take up.
United Airlines has implemented a free flight lottery in an attempt to get US citizens vaccinated, while other nations have offered incentives such as free Uber trips to vaccination hubs.
Qantas has already implemented points incentives through its wellbeing app.
“Every time a state border has reopened and when the bubble with New Zealand started, we’ve seen a big spike in people wanting to fly,” Ms Tully said.
“The demand for domestic travel has been really strong and we know a lot of people can’t wait to see family overseas.”
In a trading update last week, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce revealed the airline expected to book a statutory loss of more than $2bn for the current financial year due to the ongoing mass plane groundings caused by the pandemic.
This whopping fall is on top of the $2.7bn loss reported in the prior financial year as a result of the virus.