Cathay Pacific has set a deadline for its crew to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. All Hong Kong-based pilots and cabin crew must be vaccinated by August 31st or risk losing their jobs. The mandatory vaccination policy makes Cathay one of the only airlines globally formally planning such strict action against its crew.
According to the South China Morning Post, Cathay Pacific has informed all of its Hong Kong-based crew that they must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by August 31st at the latest. This makes the flag carrier one of the first airlines to set a hard deadline for its entire crew’s vaccinations.
Failure to get the jabs could result in crew members losing their jobs, according to the company memo. While those who cannot take the vaccine in the short run could be accommodated, others might face a review of their future employment as aircrew if not vaccinated.
However, compliance doesn’t seem to be a major issue. 90% of Cathay’s pilots have either been vaccinated or are booked to get their shots. Meanwhile, 65% of cabin crew have done the same. With just over two months to go, the remaining crew will likely move quickly to secure their doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or CoronaVac vaccines.
In total, Cathay Pacific employs 3,100 pilots and 8,750 cabin crew, most of whom are based in Hong Kong. The airline recently began hiring pilots for the first time in 18 months and after thousands of job cuts due to the pandemic.
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Justifying the decision to make vaccinations mandatory, Cathay Chief Operations and Service Delivery Officer Greg Hughes said,
“It is becoming clear that only fully vaccinated aircrew will be able to return without quarantine from most places. Furthermore, only fully vaccinated crew have been permitted to operate to certain high-risk places and only fully vaccinated crew are able to operate quarantine-free ‘bubble flights'”
However, Cathay’s urgency is understandable. Hong Kong has some of the strictest crew quarantines, with a 14-day quarantine for all returnees. These rules have meant Cathay Pacific’s capacity has fallen 90% from January, resulting in even more losses.
Vaccinations will be an important step in easing these quarantine measures and allowing the airline to fly more services. Currently, fully vaccinated passengers can shorter their quarantine in Hong Kong from 21 days to 14 days if they aren’t arriving from the highest-risk countries.
More to follow
While Cathay Pacific might be one of the early adopters of mandatory vaccines, it won’t be the only one. United has already said new hires must have taken the vaccine in order to be eligible for employment. As more countries mandate vaccinations for entry, expect airlines to push their staff to get their vaccines, be it with incentives or mandates.
What do you think about Cathay’s decision to make vaccines mandatory by September? Let us know in the comments!