Etihad Airways is the first airline in the world to have 100% of its operating pilots and cabin crew vaccinated against COVID-19. This initiative is welcome news for the aviation industry, which has seen massive disruptions and financial setbacks due to COVID-19. The vaccine is widely seen as the answer to reopening the world, with some countries already open for vaccinated tourists.
The airline’s vaccination initiative has further confirmed Etihad’s position as an industry leader in keeping its employees and travelers safe during the pandemic. Just last month, the airline was awarded Diamond status in the inaugural ‘APEX Health Safety’ audit, for efforts in ensuring the highest standards of cleanliness and sanitization.
Speaking on the initiative, Etihad’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Tony Douglas, stated:
“We proactively made the vaccine available to all our employees to not only help combat the effects of COVID-19 but to make travelers feel confident and reassured the next time they fly with us. We are the only airline in the world to make COVID-19 testing mandatory for every passenger and crew member before every flight and now, we’re the first airline in the world with 100% vaccinated crew on board.”
He further went on to say that he “chose very early on to be vaccinated to demonstrate my own support of the national vaccination program and to encourage everyone at Etihad who was eligible for the vaccine, to receive it as soon as possible.”
This achievement was made possible through Etihad’s ‘Protected Together’ employee vaccination initiative. Working with the UAE’s health authorities, the airline secured front line staff access to vaccines. It even turned the airline’s medical center into an accredited vaccination center to speed up the process.
Etihad Aviation Group’s vice president of medical services and social responsibility, Dr. Nadia Bastaki, said “since December 2020, we have been providing in-house vaccination appointments for our employees and their loved ones to emphasize our focus on the health of our employees.”
While Etihad isn’t making vaccinations mandatory for employees, it has stated that employees who choose not to get vaccinated won’t be entitled to sick leave or health insurance benefits through the company, should they get coronavirus.
The UAE currently has the second-highest vaccination rate in the world. The government set a target to vaccinate half of the population by the end of March 2021. Etihad is already ahead of that goal, with over 75% of its workforce having received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Will other airlines follow suit?
This initiative made by Etihad is great news for travelers who are worried about catching COVID while flying. While Etihad is the first airline to vaccinate all front line employees, it looks like many others may catch up soon.
United Airlines wants to make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory for employees and is encouraging other companies to do the same. According to Airways Magazine, Delta Air Lines has started giving vaccines to older staff members but is not making it mandatory for employees. However, they are one of the few airlines left with a ‘no middle seat’ policy.
Singapore Airlines also has plans to have all its frontline aviation and maritime workers vaccinated, and Emirates has started rolling out its vaccination program for staff.
This news is bound to be warmly received by travelers worldwide who have found themselves increasingly stuck at home due to flight bans and travel restrictions.
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