SIA, Scoot and Jetstar Asia to require pilots and cabin crew to be fully vaccinated

All three local carriers will require at least their front-line staff to be vaccinated by the end of this year. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - All three local carriers - Singapore Airlines (SIA), Scoot and Jetstar Asia - will require at least their front-line staff to be vaccinated by the end of this year.

SIA front-line staff based in Singapore, including pilots and cabin crew, will need to be fully vaccinated by Sept 1, said the Singapore Airlines Group in response to queries on Wednesday (Aug 18).

Meanwhile, Scoot's front-line staff based in Singapore will need to be fully vaccinated by Dec 1.

The SIA Group - which includes Scoot - said these requirements are in line with a government advisory issued on July 2, which states that employers may make vaccination a requirement for staff in higher-risk settings.

The SIA Group said that about 99 per cent of its active pilots and cabin crew have been vaccinated. Meanwhile, all Singapore front-line ground staff have been vaccinated, it added.

"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," said SIA.

"They also lower the overall risk of Covid-19 infections in the broader community."

It said it has been contacting the small number of front-line staff who have not had their vaccination, so as to better understand their reasons and address their concerns.

It said "a large number of them" have since signed up for the vaccination as a result of this.

"For the employees who are unable to take the vaccine for medical reasons, or choose not to do so, the SIA Group will endeavour to find for them another position within the organisation that is commensurate with their experience and skills," it added.

The other local budget carrier, Jetstar Asia, will require all employees - including staff based in offices - to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by Oct 1.

Jetstar Asia said on Wednesday it is the first airline in Singapore to require all employees to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Jetstar Asia said almost 100 per cent of its employees have been vaccinated. Most workers also supported the idea of vaccination being a requirement for work, as it would protect the workers and their families, it added.

The carrier's chief executive, Mr Bara Pasupathi, said: "Having a fully vaccinated workforce at Jetstar will provide one of the strongest layers of protection against the serious health impacts of this virus, while also helping Singapore open up to international travel again.

"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."

In response to queries on what would happen to employees who are not vaccinated against Covid-19, a Jetstar Asia spokesman said it will look into whether there are alternative measures that could be implemented for employees who are medically ineligible to take the vaccine.

She added: "If employees have concerns about getting vaccinated for other medical reasons, they will be managed on a case-by-case basis, in line with the Ministry of Manpower's guidelines."

On why all employees have to be vaccinated instead of just front-line staff, the spokesman said its corporate employees are based at Changi Airport. They work closely with others in the office and there are often a lot of people in the buildings, she said.

"There is also a quite a lot of interaction between our office-based employees and our front-line employees, so it is important to implement this across the board," the spokesman added.

The SIA Group said that about 99 per cent of its active pilots and cabin crew have been vaccinated. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The Ministry of Manpower, the National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore National Employers Federation on July 2 said that employers should not make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for staff, but those in higher-risk settings may make vaccination a requirement as part of company policy.

They may impose this vaccination requirement at the point of recruitment or advertisement for new hires in work settings where employees are considered to have a higher risk of Covid-19 infection. But they cannot fire existing staff on the grounds of declining vaccination.

Employers who wish to make vaccination compulsory in these higher-risk employment settings may adopt several measures for staff who decline vaccination, according to the advisory.

They may redeploy such workers to other suitable jobs with lower risk of Covid-19 infection. But terms and conditions for redeployment should be mutually agreed upon between bosses and staff if there are no existing redeployment policies within the organisation.

Australian carrier Qantas Group, which owns 49 per cent of Jetstar Asia, had announced earlier on Wednesday that its front-line employees, including cabin crew and pilots, would need to be fully vaccinated by Nov 15.

Its remaining employees will need to be vaccinated by March 31 next year.

United Airlines this month became the first US airline to require Covid-19 vaccinations for all domestic employees, in a move that was followed by Hawaiian Airlines.

Cathay Pacific Airways said in June that all Hong Kong-based pilots and flight attendants would need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by Aug 31 or risk losing their jobs.

A Virgin Australia spokesman said it was considering whether it would mandate vaccines for some or all workers.

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