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.
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.”
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.
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.