Exclusive: airBaltic CEO On Mandatory Airline Employee Vaccinations

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Exclusive: airBaltic’s CEO, Martin Gauss, today revealed his thoughts on mandatory vaccinations for airline employees. While some airline CEOs have suggested that vaccinations should be required, Gauss does not share this view.

airBaltic, COVID-19, Vaccinations
airBaltic’s CEO has revealed it is not his place to demand employees get vaccinated. Photo: Airbus

Vaccinations have become a hot topic within the aviation industry. Many believe that vaccinations will be the key to reopening travel across borders. Some CEOs, such as Qantas’ Alan Joyce, have suggested that the vaccination should be mandatory for travel. Meanwhile, some, like United’s CEO, are looking at compulsory vaccines for employees.

What does airBaltic’s CEO think?

Earlier today, Simple Flying has the opportunity to sit down with Martin Gauss, CEO of Latvian hybrid carrier airBaltic. When questioned on mandatory vaccines, Gauss commented,

“I think I have no right to order it of an employee.”

Gauss went on to suggest that he is all for vaccinations, commenting that, in an ideal world, all crew would be vaccinated.

“I would like to have a situation that I can say all of our crews are vaccinated, but we cannot order people to do that.”

airBaltic, COVID-19, Vaccinations
Gauss said that if vaccines were mandatory, that would be the decision of lawmakers. Photo: Arran Rice – Simple Flying

Could others require vaccinations?

While Gauss doesn’t believe that it is his place to demand that employees are vaccinated, he did say that others may take on that responsibility. Gauss commented,

“It could be that there are laws coming which say if you are working onboard an aircraft or in a different industry, you have to have a vaccine.”

However, any such laws are likely to be a way off. The airline CEO remarked that Latvia is not currently in a position to prioritize crew for vaccines. As such, requiring vaccines now would be a shot in the foot for the country’s aviation industry.

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What about vaccines for passengers?

Gauss told Simple Flying that the world needs to trust the solution decided to get people moving from A to B without quarantine and other restrictions. As things stand, he sees this being a vaccine passport. airBaltic is trialing IATA’s Travel Pass app. However, Gauss cautioned against requiring health passports too quickly, commenting that,

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“It would not be fair to say that only the rich countries which have vaccinated their people can travel, and in the poor countries, people cannot travel… We have a global aviation industry, so we need to take care of all countries around the world.”

airBaltic, COVID-19, Vaccinations
airBaltic is trialing IATA’s Travel Pass for an initial period of three weeks. Photo: Airbus

Gauss warned that we likely won’t ever see a global set of standardized travel restrictions relating to the COVID-19 outbreak, commenting that a coordinated approach has yet to be reached even within Europe. However, he does see a future where passengers will be able to travel without wearing a mask “if it is clear that they cannot infect each other.”

What do you make of airBaltic’s CEO’s comments on mandatory vaccinations for staff? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!

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