Earlier last month we reported Singapore Airline’s plans to become the first airline to fully vaccinate all employees, following the Singaporean Government directive to vaccinate all 37,000 aviation and maritime workers as a priority. In a follow-up today, the carrier announced a booming success towards this milestone, with 90% of staff booked to receive the Coronavirus Vaccine.
SIA’s drive to vaccinate
Singapore Airlines (SIA) drive to vaccinate staff comes following a loss of SG$2.9 billion ($2.18 billion) for the nine month period since April 2020, due to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on international travel. For SIA, not being able to fly internationally is a huge barrier to operations, and so executives are keen to vaccinate as many staff as possible.
The Singapore Government has placed an order for the Pfizer vaccine, with enough doses to vaccinate 44million people: Singapore is home to just 5.5million. The nation has also adopted a unique priority list, which (unlike many counterparts rolling out vaccines) includes Aviation & Maritime Workers. In response to this, last month SIA’s CEO Goh Choon Phong said:
“We are grateful to the Singapore government for making the aviation sector a priority in the country’s vaccination exercise. This reflects the sector’s importance, and the crucial role we play in both Singapore’s economic recovery and the fight against the pandemic.”
Though the airline group, made up of Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Scoot, does not plan on making vaccinations mandatory for its employees, the offer of the free jab by the government has been well received. Across the SIA Group almost every employee has signed up to receive the vaccine. In a statement in it’s quarterly report, the airline said: “More than 90% of the operating crew in all three airlines have signed up for the vaccination.” A promising sign indeed.
The vaccine effort
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has announced that their new mass-testing facility at Terminal 4 of Singapore Airport can currently vaccinate up-to 2,000 people per day, and authorities were looking to further ramp up this figure.
The facility will initially be used directly to vaccinate key Aviation workers including cabin-crew, pilots, baggage handlers and cleaners: All individuals which come into regular contact with travellers from potentially ‘high-risk’ countries. A separate facility at Raffles City Convention Centre has been put together to deliver doses of the jab to Maritime key-workers.
The move to vaccinate aviation and maritime workers can be very much linked to the transmission of the virus through import, into Singapore. Recent outbreaks have been linked to Ocean Tankers, and Flights, including the closure of the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Hotel after aircrew and guests tested positive for the virus in mass.
When asked about those who are weary of the vaccine, the Transport Minister, Ong Ye Kung, said:
“[We will] just start vaccinating those who are willing at first, and over time, I think, the momentum will grow and the snowball will get bigger and bigger. As of now, our national policy remains that we are not making it compulsory, even at the sectoral basis”
What are your thoughts on SIA’s plans to vaccinate all their crew? Will COVID-safe employees be an exit for the aviation industry out of this pandemic? Let us know your thoughts below.