Etihad Airways announced that all of its operating crews have received the vaccine against COVID-19. The vaccine is free for its crews and their families.
Restarting aviation and all economies throttled in the pandemic, is the target for most airlines. Not all of them choose the same methods, but then again not all have the same support in their respective countries. As a key company in the United Arab Emirates, Etihad successfully made its crews key workers, eligible for early vaccines.
Already in August, Etihad had made PCR testing mandatory for all passengers and crews, before every flight. For flights originating in Abu Dhabi, the PCR test is complimentary. More recently, the airline was one of the first in the world to use IATA’s Travel Pass. Etihad and other airlines hope that this system will succeed in standardizing testing and vaccine results, across the world.
The hope is that the system will be vital, as vaccination takes hold and air travel opens up. However, determining its success may have to wait. Etihad and IATA’s efforts will depend on the speed of vaccine roll-outs. With progress being slower than many anticipated, international adoption of such a system looks to be slow. However, there is certainly no end of airlines and even countries, that are pushing for it to happen.
Still, the airlines press on. Early in January, Etihad Group’s CEO Tony Douglas publicly received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine had recently become available in UAE. Etihad aimed for and succeeded in making its own Medical centre an approved vaccination site. It is there that the vaccine is freely available to the airline’s employees.
Etihad’s Vaccine Adoption… And Competition?
The vaccine is also free for the dependents of Etihad employees, aged 18 years and over. The airline began vaccinations in December. Referring to reaching this vaccination landmark, Douglas said:
“We proactively made the vaccine available to all our employees to not only help combat the effects of COVID-19 but to make travellers feel confident and reassured the next time they fly with us. We are the only airline in the world to make COVID-19 testing mandatory for every passenger and crew member before every flight and now, we’re the first airline in the world with 100% vaccinated crew on board.
“I chose very early on to be vaccinated to demonstrate my own support of the national vaccination programme and to encourage everyone at Etihad who was eligible for the vaccine, to receive it as soon as possible. I would like to thank the entire Etihad family for everything they have done to help us reach this milestone – I am truly humbled.”
To be clear, not every one of Etihad’s employees has had the vaccine yet. But 100% of all operating crews have had it, according to the airline. In total, 75% of Etihad’s employees have received at least one dose of the vaccine. In UAE, the goal is for 50% of the population to receive the vaccine by the end of March. So the company is well ahead of national targets.
Etihad is in an unofficial ‘race’ to be the first to give the vaccine to its entire workforce. The other ‘entrant’ in the race is Singapore Airlines. In their earnings results last week, they announced that 90% of their operating crew have signed up for vaccination.