Aviation groups join to support global travel vaccine coalition to ensure equal access for all

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Airlines like Etihad and Australia's Qantas are requiring staff to be vaccinated. (PHOTO: Etihad)

Virgin Atlantic has joined travel services specialist Collinson and the Pacific Asia Travel Association as part of the Global Travel Sector Vaccine Coalition. Together, they will use their collective reach to play a part in ensuring everyone, no matter where they are in the world, has access to the COVID-19 vaccine. The travel industry has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the emergence of a new variant and renewed travel bans, it is urgent to address low vaccination rates in middle and low-income countries.

China has been shipping COVID-19 vaccines to Cambodia. (PHOTO: Cambodian Airports)

Anil Soni, Chief Executive Officer of the WHO Foundation, said: “Vaccine inequity is morally unjust and economically and epidemiologically self-defeating. We need everyone to help protect the world. We are thrilled to see this leadership from industry heavyweights to get vaccines to people who need them most. The Global Travel Sector Vaccine Coalition is a great example of how companies can join forces to make a global difference. We invite other members of the travel industry to join us to power vaccines around the world. Together, we can all play our part to ensure vaccines for everyone, everywhere.”

The Collinson COVID-19 Testing Initiative first launched in October 2020 and is now at several major UK airports. Listening to their experience, WHO Foundation and Collinson formed the Travel Coalition in recognition of how the industry can make a real difference. David Evans, Joint CEO at Collinson, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the WHO Foundation’s Go Give One campaign. The travel and tourism industry knows only too well how important it is for everyone, everywhere to have access to vaccines if we are to end the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve seen first-hand how our industry has had to adapt to ensure the safety of people and organisations in this new reality and are calling on the sector now to join us as part of the Travel Coalition. There’s a true power in numbers to getting this done, and we’re urging our customers to give what they can, as well as asking other travel companies to join forces with us. It’s time to stamp out vaccine inequality, so support however you can, especially during this time of year – the season for giving back.”

Virgin Atlantic is supporting the Go Give One campaign through onboard donations this December and with an additional donation from the Virgin Atlantic Foundation. Corneel Koster, Chief Customer and Operating Officer, Virgin Atlantic, commented: “It’s evident that COVID-19 is something we must learn to live with. We know that en masse vaccine programmes work, thanks to the success we’ve seen in developed nations around the world, but unless we support lower-income countries in accessing these vaccines, we will not beat this global threat. By supporting the WHO Foundation in raising funds for the Go Give One campaign through our onboard donations this month, our teams and customers can play a part in helping to close the gap. The WHO Foundation and Virgin Atlantic are grateful for every contribution. It costs just £4 to buy a vaccine, meaning even the smallest donations can go a long way. Successful vaccination programmes are the route out of the pandemic and we must all play our part in combating this virus; together we can do our bit to offer vaccines to the world and beat COVID-19.”

Members of the travel industry can join the Global Travel Sector Vaccine Coalition to power vaccines by making corporate contributions, running match giving schemes, and engaging their customers, employees, and clients in the Go Give One campaign.

Liz Ortiguera, PATA Chief Executive Officer, said on tackling vaccine equity as a Travel Coalition member, “We at PATA are calling on our travel sector colleagues to support vaccine equity because no one is safe until everyone is safe. As of the beginning of December 2021, only a little over 8 percent of people in low income countries have received a first vaccine dose.  Individuals, organisations, and governments need to rally to accelerate the recovery. The travel sector has played a critical role in responding to the crisis already – from serving as quarantine hotels to providing staff for field hospitals. We can continue to help enable the solution to this crisis by supporting the vaccine efforts of the WHO Foundation for COVAX AMC.”

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