SINGAPORE/KUALA LUMPUR — Singapore Airlines Ltd and Malaysia Airlines said they had mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for pilots and cabin crew, joining a growing number of airlines around the world making it an employment requirement.
Singapore Airlines said that 99% of active pilots and cabin crew had been vaccinated ahead of a Sept. 1 deadline, as well as all frontline ground staff. Malaysia Airlines said that all active pilots and cabin crew had received vaccines as had 95% of Malaysia -based employees under a policy set in July.
“Vaccinations further enhance the protection for them and everyone around them, on top of the stringent measures that have been put in place to minimize their risk of exposure to the Covid-19 virus at work,” Singapore Airlines said in a statement.
In Asia, Qantas Airways Ltd on Wednesday said all employees must be vaccinated or risk losing their jobs, while Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd has mandated it for pilots and cabin crew.
Qantas’s Singapore-based budget offshoot Jetstar Asia said that all employees had to be vaccinated by Oct. 1, and that nearly 100% had done so to date.
International travel in the Asia-Pacific region is down about 95% from pre-pandemic levels because of strict border controls, and airlines are hopeful that rising vaccination rates will aid in reopenings.
Even at airlines where crew vaccinations remain voluntary, carriers are reporting high take-up rates.
In the Philippines, budget carrier Cebu Pacific said 92% of its workforce, including 97% of pilots, were inoculated. AirAsia Philippines said 92% of its workers had received doses voluntarily, including 97% of cabin crew.
United Airlines Inc this month became the first US airline to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all domestic employees, a move that was followed by Hawaiian Airlines. (Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore and Liz Lee in Kuala Lumpur; additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales in Manila; writing by Jamie Freed. Editing by Gerry Doyle)