Emirates To Staff: Get Vaccine Or Pay For Tests

By Spyros Georgilidakis | March 13, 2021

Emirates in Dubai tells its staff that if they don’t get one of the free COVID-19 vaccines on offer, they will need to pay for tests regularly, to work.

We have seen airlines with different attitudes towards vaccination. Disagreements often come with regard to the traveling public. Most seem to expect that airline employees and others in sensitive professions, will get the vaccine. However the way airline management pursues this, can vary. Emirates’ stance is that while they won’t order people to get the vaccine, in practice, people have to.

Emirates To Staff: Get Vaccine Or Pay For Tests

The information comes from an e-mail, circulated among company staff. The policy affects cabin crews and comes into effect from the 15th of March. The measure doesn’t apply to Emirates crews that have arranged to get their first or second vaccine dose. Exempt staff also include those who have a valid medical reason, or have immunity due to a recent infection with COVID-19. In part, the e-mail reads:

Certain countries may in the future differentiate entry criteria between those who have taken the vaccine and those who did not. Keeping this in mind, having a vaccinated workforce has become essential not just from a health and safety angle but from an operational one too.

Emirates To Staff: Get Vaccine Or Pay For Tests


Vaccine Requirement Not Unique To Emirates

An Emirates spokeswoman pointed out that the same vaccine policy applies to all state employees in the United Arab Emirates. Emirates is a state-owned airline. Like other government employees, those working at the airline can get one of two vaccines for free. They are the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Sinopharm vaccines, the latter from China. The AstraZeneca is also free for the public in Dubai. The policy to make the vaccines freely available came to effect in January.

If all this sounds a bit familiar, it’s because Emirates’ vaccine policies are similar to Etihad’s. A bit over a month ago, this airline boasted that all crews on board its flights have received the vaccine. In terms of the total number of employees, at the time about 75% of them had received one dose. A month later, the Emirates’ internal email said that 60% of cabin crews had received one or both vaccine doses.

777X – Emirates Will Have To Be Patient

Other airlines have different attitudes. In a recent interview with Simple Flying, airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss said that he is all for vaccinations. But unlike Emirates’ policy, Gauss states that he doesn’t think he has the right to order employees to get the vaccine. He stated:

I would like to have a situation that I can say all of our crews are vaccinated, but we cannot order people to do that.

Laws making vaccines mandatory for certain professions, could change this. But for many parts of the world, this isn’t realistic. Going back to Emirates, the alternative to the vaccine is a COVID-19 test, costing around $40. This is much less than in other countries. However for most, a free vaccine would certainly be more practical.


  • It seems obvious but … there are several vaccines covering different variants and there are not yet enough data about the efficiency and the side effects. The virus is continuously mutating and this is a real issue regarding the vaccine since no vaccine protects from all the Covid variants.
    Moreover we are not even sure of the immunity provided by the vaccine. Note that there are people who got the virus last year and were sick again due to a new variant of the virus which means that even having developed the disease they were not immunized. That’s not a good new since any vaccine is based on this principle.
    Worse, it is not granted that some vaccines prevent from contagiousness. This means that some vaccinated people might be protected from a severe form of the disease (that’s fine) but not from being contagious if they have the virus. That’s a serious problem for travelling.
    At least PCR tests (or any reliable test) provide a clear conclusion: you have or you don’t have the virus. If you are not infected you cannot be contagious. Simple.
    With the vaccine I am afraid that it’s more related to politics and/or economy than medicine. The idea is “get vaccinated, whatever is the vaccine, and it will be OK”. I can understand the idea but I am not sure it is so simple. Just my opinion…

  • I wish every company would do that, or that the governments just mandated vaccinations for everyone who can medically tolerate them.

Leave your comment