Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines require COVID-19 vaccines for crew

Credit: REUTERS/Edgar Su

Qantas, Cathay Pacific have also set vaccine mandates

Voluntary take-up is high at budget carriers in Philippines

Asia-Pacific international travel down 95% from pre-COVID levels

Adds Jetstar Asia, Cebu Pacific, AirAsia Philippines policies

SINGAPORE/KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Singapore Airlines Ltd SIAL.SI and Malaysia Airlines said they had mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for pilots and cabin crew, joining a growing number of airlines around the world making it an employment requirement.

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.

"Vaccinations further enhance the protection for them and everyone around them, on top of the stringent measures that have been put in place to minimise their risk of exposure to the Covid-19 virus at work," Singapore Airlines said in a statement.

In Asia, Qantas Airways Ltd QAN.AX on Wednesday said all employees must be vaccinated or risk losing their jobs, while Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd 0293.HK has mandated it for pilots and cabin crew.

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.

International travel in the Asia-Pacific region is down about 95% from pre-pandemic levels because of strict border controls, and airlines are hopeful that rising vaccination rates will aid in reopenings.

Even at airlines where crew vaccinations remain voluntary, carriers are reporting high take-up rates.

In the Philippines, budget carrier Cebu Pacific CEB.PS 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.

United Airlines Inc UAL.O 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 HA.O.

(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore and Liz Lee in Kuala Lumpur; additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales in Manila; writing by Jamie Freed. Editing by Gerry Doyle)


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