Cathay Pacific has told its aircrew that they must get a Covid vaccination by 31 August or risk losing their jobs.
The airline said staff rostering has become “difficult and complicated” because of a need to segregate vaccinated and non-vaccinated crew.
Cathay Pacific said it could, in the “short-term”, accommodate those employees not able to take the vaccine.
But it said: “We will review the future employment of those who are unable to become vaccinated.”
The carrier added that it would “assess whether they can continue to be employed as aircrew”.
The Hong Kong-based airline said that 90% of its pilots and 65% of its cabin crew have been vaccinated or have appointments to receive the injection.
But it said it was “becoming clear that only fully vaccinated aircrew will be able to return without quarantine from most places”.
It said that in order for Cathay Pacific and the global airline industry to recover, “vaccination is a critical component”.
“After very careful consideration, we have now made the decision that all Hong Kong-based crewmembers must be vaccinated against Covid-19 by 31 August 2021,” it said.
It comes as Hong Kong prepares to relax some Covid travel restrictions as early as the end of this month.
Hong Kong residents will have to quarantine for seven days, instead of the current two-week period, if they are fully vaccinated and take a test at the airport to show they are negative for Covid and positive for antibodies.
According to the South China Morning Post, it is hoped the arrangement could then be extended to Hong Kong residents currently overseas as well as other travellers.
Vaccination rates in Hong Kong are relatively low, with 27% of the population receiving the first jab and 17.6% of the population fully vaccinated. That compares with 65% of people in the UK who have had the first dose and 47% who have had both.
Airlines have taken differing approaches to cabin crew vaccinations. Earlier this week, US carrier United Airlines said that from August only fully vaccinated pilots and cabin crew would be allowed to work on flights to high risk destinations.
It would apply to flights operating in countries such as India, Brazil and Chile.
United Airlines, as well as US rival Delta, are requiring that all new recruits joining from 15 June are fully vaccinated against Covid.