Qantas Airways, Singapore Airlines And Malaysia Airlines To Require Employees To Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19
Qantas Airways Ltd, Singapore Airlines Ltd and Malaysia Airlines have said that they will require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Qantas Airways has said that it will require all of its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of its broader commitment to safety.
Pilots, cabin crew and airport workers will need to be fully vaccinated by November 15, while other staff will have until March 31, 2022, the airline said.
There will be exemptions for those who are unable to be vaccinated based on documented medical reasons, which it said is expected to be very rare.
The airline said that a staff poll found that 89% have already been vaccinated or are planning to be and approximately three quarters of staff felt it should be a requirement.
"It's clear that vaccinations are the only way to end the cycle of lockdowns and border closures," Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce told reporters.
Qantas said this month that it is temporarily idling approximately 2,500 employees without pay for at least two months in a bid to cope with fresh COVID-19 restrictions in Australia that have slashed domestic travel demand.
The airline has previously said that it will require all international passengers to be vaccinated once Australia's borders reopen.
Joyce said that Qantas is also examining the possibility of requiring vaccinations for domestic travellers, given precedents overseas that made them mandatory for entry to venues like sports events and restaurants.
"We are still working it out," he said. "No decision has been made."
The state of Western Australia now requires travellers from COVID-hit New South Wales to have had at least one vaccine dose for entry.
Singapore Airlines And Malaysia Airlines
Singapore Airlines Ltd and Malaysia Airlines said that they have mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for pilots and cabin crew.
Singapore Airlines said that 99% of active pilots and cabin crew have been vaccinated ahead of a September 1 deadline, as well as all frontline ground staff.
"Vaccinations further enhance the protection for them and everyone around them, on top of the stringent measures that have been put in place to minimise their risk of exposure to the Covid-19 virus at work," Singapore Airlines said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines said that all active pilots and cabin crew have received vaccines as have 95% of Malaysia-based employees under a policy set in July.
International travel in the Asia-Pacific region is down by approximately 95% from pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels because of strict border controls, and airlines are hopeful that rising vaccination rates will aid in reopenings.
Other Asian Airlines Reporting High Vaccination Uptake
Other Asian airlines are also reporting high vaccination among their employees.
Only vaccinated Cathay Pacific crews will be able to operate flights to countries that Hong Kong considers "high-risk" starting from Friday August 20, a memo to staff seen by Reuters showed, though their quarantine time on return will be halved to one week.
However, hours later, it sent a second memo seen by Reuters saying the rules had not eased and crews would need to quarantine for 14 days when returning from countries like Britain.
Cathay has said that 99% of pilots and 91% of cabin crew have booked or received vaccinations.
Even in places such as the Philippines where crew vaccinations are voluntary, carriers are reporting high take-up rates.
Philippine Airlines said that 90% of flight crew members are vaccinated, while budget carrier Cebu Pacific said that 92% of its workforce, including 97% of pilots, are inoculated, and AirAsia Philippines said that 92% of its workers have received doses, including 97% of cabin crew.
In Taiwan, China Airlines Ltd said that all pilots and cabin crew have completed at least their first dose, while EVA Airways Corp said that more than 90% of air crew have received both doses. The Taiwanese carriers did not specify whether vaccinations are mandatory or voluntary.
Virgin Australia, United, Frontier And Hawaiian
A Virgin Australia spokesperson said that it is considering whether it will mandate vaccines for some or all workers.
Earlier this month, United Airlines Inc became the first US airline to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all domestic employees, in a move that was followed by Frontier Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines.