SINGAPORE/KUALA LUMPUR – Asian airlines are reporting high vaccination take-up rates among pilots and cabin crew as they wait for the region’s tight pandemic-related border controls to be relaxed.
International travel in the Asia-Pacific region remains down about 95% from pre-pandemic levels, and concerns about the Delta variant have led to even stricter quarantines or flight caps in some places, leaving many air crew members idle and hoping for a recovery.
Singapore Airlines Ltd, Malaysia Airlines, Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd and Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd are among those requiring crew to be vaccinated or risk losing their jobs.
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.
Qantas on Wednesday said all employees must be vaccinated, while Cathay has mandated it for pilots and cabin crew by Aug. 31.
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.
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.
In Taiwan, China Airlines Ltd said all pilots and cabin crew had completed at least their first dose, while EVA Airways Corp said more than 90% of air crew had received both doses. The Taiwanese carriers did not specify whether vaccinations were mandatory or voluntary.
United Airlines Inc this month became the first U.S. airline to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all domestic employees, a move that was followed by Hawaiian Airlines.