Three Singapore-based airlines are moving to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for aircrews and other frontline employees by the end of the year. Scoot, Singapore Airlines, and Jetstar Asia have all recently confirmed the decision.
Singapore Airlines, Scoot, & Jetstar Asia singing from the same vaccination songbook
The news coincides with Singapore relaxing entry rules for travelers from Germany and Brunei. The welcome mat will also get rolled out for travelers from Hong Kong and Macau next week.
“All Singapore-based Singapore Airlines frontline staff, including pilots and cabin crew, need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by 1 September 2021,” Singapore Airlines spokesperson Karl Schubert told Simple Flying.
“All of Scoot’s Singapore-based frontline staff, including pilots and cabin crew, need to be fully vaccinated by 1 December 2021. This is in line with the prevailing advisory from Singapore’s tripartite partners.
“To date, all Singapore-based SIA Group frontline ground staff have been vaccinated. In addition, around 99% of the SIA Group’s active pilots and cabin crew have also been vaccinated.”
Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower advises employers in Singapore cannot make vaccinations mandatory. But there’s an escape clause for employers operating in high-risk industries like aviation. Singapore Airlines has been individually contacting employees who have not yet been vaccinated.
“For the employees who are unable to take the vaccine for medical reasons, or choose not to do so, the SIA Group will endeavor to find for them another position within the organization that is commensurate with their experience and skills,” the airline says.
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Jetstar Asia CEO says vaccinations safeguard everybody
Over at Jetstar Asia, the vaccination rates among employees are similar. Jetstar Asia is mandating vaccinations for all of its employees, the lot of them, by October 1.
“Given the potential for the virus to spread, having a fully vaccinated team helps to safeguard our customers, our people, and the communities we fly to,” Jetstar Asia CEO Bara Pasupathi said.
“Given the potential for the virus to spread, having a fully vaccinated team helps to safeguard our customers, our people, and the communities we fly to.”
To date, most airlines have been reluctant to mandate vaccinations for employees. There are legislative, labor, and freedom of choice reasons for this. But there are signs the tide is turning.
Tide is turning regarding employee vaccinations
This week, Australian airline Qantas (who own 49% of Jetstar Asia) announced it would make vaccinations compulsory for its employees. Frontline employees and aircrews have until November 15 to do so. The remaining employees need to get vaccinated by March 31, 2022.
“One crew member can fly into multiple cities and come into contact with thousands of people in a single day,” said CEO Alan Joyce. “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.”
Across the Pacific, United Airlines recently said it would require all of its US-based employees to get vaccinated by October 25 or within five weeks of federal approval of more COVID-19 vaccination types, whichever comes first. United Airlines is the first big US-based airline to mandate vaccinations among employees.
Around 75% of Singapore’s residents are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The island nation is eyeing safely reopening its borders. With international flying around Asia still subdued, the gradual reopening of the critical Singapore hub will be a welcome step forward for airlines and their passengers.
With their vaccinated aircrews and frontline workers, Singapore’s airlines will be good to go.