Airlines are rushing to promote the news that their on-board crews are being vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus as a way to boost confidence in the travelling public. Despite the vaccinations however, international travel remains at almost a standstill as governments continue to keep in place either outright border closures or strict quarantines that keep people from travelling. Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, announced on 10 February that it had vaccinated all its operating pilots and cabin crew “to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and give passengers who travel with the airline peace of mind”.
Tony Douglas, group chief executive officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “We proactively made the vaccine available to all our employees to not only help combat the effects of COVID-19 but to make travellers feel confident and reassured the next time they fly with us. We are the only airline in the world to make COVID-19 testing mandatory for every passenger and crew member before every flight and now, we’re the first airline in the world with 100 percent vaccinated crew on board. I chose very early on to be vaccinated to demonstrate my own support of the national vaccination programme and to encourage everyone at Etihad who was eligible for the vaccine, to receive it as soon as possible. I would like to thank the entire Etihad family for everything they have done to help us reach this milestone – I am truly humbled.”
This achievement was made possible through Etihad’s ‘Protected Together’ employee vaccination initiative which was formally launched in January this year. Building on the UAE’s Choose to Vaccinate campaign, Protected Together is about helping staff take proactive, personal steps towards protecting themselves against COVID-19.
A day later on 11 February the Singapore Airline Group said all three airlines it owns – Singapore Airlines, Scoot and SilkAir – were also flying their planes with all crew on board vaccinated against the virus. The group said operating crews “have responded very positively to the exercise, with more than 90 percent of cabin crew and pilots signing up for the vaccine to date”.
Goh Choon Phong, CEO of Singapore Airlines, said, “we are very encouraged by the strong take-up rate for the vaccine from our colleagues. Vaccinations will be key to the reopening of borders and to enhancing travel confidence, in tandem with robust testing regimes and the wide-ranging safe management measures that are in place on the ground and in the air. They offer greater protection for our people and provide an added layer of assurance to our customers.”