Expect turbulence after take-off.
“There’s going to be confusion and chaos,” David Chadwick, director for identity and biometrics for Unisys in Asia Pacific, told 9News.com.au, explaining how Australia and other countries are now rushing to update and synchronise their coronavirus border technology.
“My gut feel is at least six months,” Mr Chadwick said, drawing on “insider knowledge” based on his time as Australian lead for biometric passports with United Nations agency the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
“And within six months I think the major countries will settle down.
“If you’re traveling to more out-of-the-way places, I think that confusion is going to reign for probably most of next year.
“But I think that first six months, seven months, I think it’s going to be utter confusion.”
Aviation analyst and associate professor at RMIT Chrystal Zhang agreed, warning Australians are in for a “bumpy start” when international travel resumes.
“Australians should still dream and plan their overseas holidays,” Ms Zhang said, “but we need to expect some ups and downs until everything settles down.”
These are the key issues highlighted by our experts when we asked what international travel will look like once the borders open.
You’ll need a Visible Digital Seal
Applied for before travelling, the VDS is a 2D barcode that could be a sticker in your passport, printed out on paper or stored on your phone, Mr Chadwick said. Issued at a federal level, the VDS will contain your coronavirus vaccine status, and all countries, including Australia, will be able to trust that verifiable information.
And that’s where longer waits could arise
Issuing the VDS is easy. The problems will arise because not every country can or will move at the same time with the VDS initiative, Mr Chadwick said. Countries that don’t have the tech to read the VDS will result in longer processing times at customs. Similarly, travellers coming to Australia from countries without a VDS will cause log jams at our international airports. “The key word is trust,” Mr Chadwick said. The VDS needs to be trusted in the same way e-passports store authenticated traveller information.
What countries will Australia sync up with most easily?
The likes of the US, UK, Singapore, Canada and New Zealand, Mr Chadwick said. “I know Europe have got their own sort of standard but I think they’ll very quickly move to accept the VDS as well as expect reciprocity for their standard.”
Returning Aussies a good test run
Mr Chadwick said the trickle of stranded Australians able to return home and Australian outbound travellers making early trips abroad will help bed in the system, before mass volumes return.
Masks on flights, less service
No surprises here, but you can expect to wear a mask while on a plane except when eating. Food and drink services will be dialled right back, particularly in economy.
One week quarantine in Australia could deter foreign visitors
Some tourists will see the one-week home quarantine in Australia as “a hurdle” they are unwilling to jump, Ms Zhang said, while others – such as international students – will of course be happy to take the hit. Fiji today announced it was opening to international visitors in December, with fully vaccinated tourists from a “green list” of 15 countries, which includes Australia, not required to quarantine.
Qantas ready, but other carriers slower to return
2022 a challenging time for airlines
Airlines have been hemorrhaging billions of dollars during the pandemic, and there will be difficult times ahead. Fluctuations in route demand will make it hard for airlines to plan. Oil prices have risen sharply in recent months, and many airlines had laid off thousands of skilled pilots, aircrew and workers, some who will never return to the industry.