Cathay Pacific tells aircrew to get COVID vaccine or risk losing job

A Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 aircraft
The Hong Kong-based airline said it was struggling with staff rotas due to the need to separate crew who have been vaccinated from those who have not. Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Cathay Pacific (0293.HK) has told its aircrew that they must get a COVID vaccine before 31 August or risk losing their jobs.

The Hong Kong-based airline admitted to struggling with staff rotas due to the need to separate crew who have been vaccinated from those who have not. The policy, which was first reported by the South China Morning Post, relates to both pilots and flight attendants.

"After very careful consideration, we have now made the decision that all Hong Kong-based crew members must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by 31 August 2021,” said Cathay in a statement.

The airline said that it was "becoming clear that only fully vaccinated aircrew will be able to return without quarantine from most places”, adding that vaccination was a “critical component” for the recovery of the global airline industry.

However, Cathay said that for now it would accommodate workers who are not able to take the jab.

“We will review the future employment of those who are unable to become vaccinated and assess whether they can continue to be employed as aircrew with Cathay Pacific,” it said.

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Cathay has experienced difficulty with Hong Kong’s strict quarantine rules on return, as well as requirements that only fully vaccinated crews can operate to certain high-risk destinations and on quarantine-free "bubble" flights.

Around 90% of the airline's pilots have been vaccinated so far, or have appointments to receive the injection, as well as 65% of its cabin crew.

The news follows similar moves across the aviation sector. On Tuesday, United Airlines Holdings (UAL) said that it would mandate full vaccination for crew members flying to countries with high COVID-19 cases at the beginning of August.

The rule would apply for flights to India, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Argentina, the company said.

The list may extend to China and Taiwan based on potential accommodations received from local governments, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters at the time.

Meanwhile last month Delta Air Lines (DAL) said all new employees are required to be vaccinated.

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