Qantas and Jetstar will make mask use mandatory for passengers on all flights to and from Melbourne from Thursday, and say the policy could extend to other routes where there is evidence of COVID-19 spreading in the community.
The merits of compulsory mask wearing on planes has divided health experts but the measure has been enforced by airlines in the United States and Europe, and made mandatory on international repatriation flights to Australia.
Regional Express (Rex) has been the only Australian domestic airline to make masks compulsory, while Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin have provided masks to passengers and recommended they wear them.
Qantas Group medical director Ian Hosegood told a hearing of the federal Senate select committee on COVID-19 on Tuesday that masks would be made compulsory from Thursday on Qantas and Jetstar flights in and out of Melbourne, in line with rules set to take effect in the Victorian capital and the neighbouring Mitchell Shire that require everyone over the age of 12 to wear masks outside their homes.
Dr Hosegood said there was public “resistance” to wearing masks on fights between destinations that did not have the same level of community transmission present in Melbourne.
“Our approach to masks is that we strongly recommend that passenger wear them, but where there is no active cases in the community and flights are travelling between those locations, it’s very difficult