Qantas requires all employees to be vaccinated against COVID; Air New Zealand adds restrictions

Air New Zealand announced it was restricting travel on the airline after the country's government enacted new lockdowns following the discovery of a since Delta variant COVID-19 case.

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  • 89 percent had already been vaccinated or are planning to be.
  • 4 percent were unwilling or unable to get the jab.
  • Around three-quarters think it should be a requirement for all employees to be vaccinated and would be concerned if other employees in the workplace weren’t vaccinated.

In a separate survey of more than 1000 Qantas customers, 92 percent said they expect Qantas crew to be fully vaccinated. Thousands of aviation workers supporting international flights in New South Wales, South Australia and New Zealand are already required to be vaccinated by those jurisdictions. Multiple airlines around the world have also made it a requirement. Announcing the policy, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “Having a fully vaccinated workforce will safeguard our people against the virus but also protect our customers and the communities we fly to.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

“One crew member can fly into multiple cities and come into contact with thousands of people in a single day. Making sure they are vaccinated given the potential of this virus to spread is so important and I think it’s the kind of safety leadership people would expect from us,” Joyce said. “We provide an essential service, so this will help guard against the disruptions that can be caused by just one positive COVID-case shutting down a freight facility or airport terminal. “It’s clear that vaccinations are the only way to end the cycle of lockdowns and border closures and for a lot of Qantas and Jetstar employees that means getting back to work again. This was one of the largest responses to any survey we’ve conducted, even with thousands of our people stood down, which shows just how important this is for them. Since vaccines became available, we’ve strongly encouraged all of our people to get the jab and are offering paid time off to get it done. We were really pleased to see from the survey that more than three quarters of those who responded have already rolled up their sleeve at least once and 60 per cent have had both jabs.

“Many of our people said they would feel concerned about working with unvaccinated colleagues, which is something that many workplaces across the country are grappling with,” Joyce said. “We understand there will be a very small number of people who decide not to get the vaccine, and that’s their right, but it’s our responsibility to provide the safest possible environment for our employees and for our customers,” added Mr Joyce.

Further discussions will take place with employees, their health and safety representatives and unions over the coming weeks on the detail of the policy, including how medical exemptions will be applied.

Air New Zealand update on Alert Level changes

(PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Separately, Air New Zealand announced it was restricting travel on the airline after the country’s government enacted new restrictions and quarantines following the discovery of a since Delta variant COVID-19 case. The airline said following the Prime Minister’s announcement that New Zealand will enter COVID-19 Alert Level 4 from 11:59pm 17 August, until 11:59pm 20 August, Air New Zealand has made a number of changes to its services. During Alert Level 4, travel is restricted to essential services only. Customers who are travelling should check they are eligible to travel under Alert Level 4 on the government’s COVID-19 website, as travel is severely limited.

For the next 48 hours, the airline will continue to operate its current schedule around the country to enable customers to return home to their place of residence. Food and beverage service onboard domestic flights will be suspended in response to the latest community case and this suspension will remain in place until further notice. Water is available on request on all flights. From tonight, Air New Zealand’s lounges will be closed. Valet parking will be closed to new bookings, however will stay open for 48 hours for customers to retrieve their vehicle. While the country is at elevated Alert Levels, Air New Zealand will be taking extra precautions to keep its staff and customers safe. Air New Zealand front line staff and cabin crew will be wearing masks and gloves, and customers are still required to wear face coverings onboard.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran says the airline has prepared for this scenario. “We want to remind customers that we’ve been here before and have built capability to work through the changes. Our teams will be working hard over the next 48 hours to get Kiwis to where they need to be and we ask that customers please be patient appreciate our staff are doing their very best.”

Customers throughout New Zealand with existing bookings for travel between 17 August and 24 August will be able change their booking with change fees and any fare difference waived through to 31 August. Customers can do this via our online booking tool. Those who have booked through a third party will need to contact their agent. In addition to this, customers who hold a ticket for a domestic flight scheduled to depart up until 30 September are able to opt in for credit and can do this via the airline’s online booking tool.

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