Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience…
Singapore Airlines announced on Thursday that it will become the second airline in the world to only operate flights with fully vaccinated cabin crew and pilots. The airline was beaten to the title of world’s first by rival Etihad Airways which announced just a day earlier that all of its operating flight crew had now been inoculated against the COVID-19 virus.
Goh Choon Phong, Singapore Airlines chief executive had implored staff to take up the offer of a jab in a bid to make the airline the first fully vaccinated airline in the world. Over 52,000 frontline transport workers have received at least their first dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine as part of Singapore’s effort to protect its borders from COVID-19 importation.
“We are very encouraged by the strong take-up rate for the vaccine from our colleagues,” commented Phong on Thursday. “Vaccinations will be key to the reopening of borders and to enhancing travel confidence, in tandem with robust testing regimes and the wide-ranging safe management measures that are in place on the ground and in the air,” he continued.
“They offer greater protection for our people and provide an added layer of assurance to our customers.”
The first fully vaccinated flight with a total of 12 crew onboard was Singapore Airlines flight SQ956 to Jakarta which landed at just before 10 am local time on Thursday. Speaking to the crew before departure, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said the mass vaccination programme was “proceeding like clockwork”.
A vaccination centre, which is currently capable of inoculating up to 4,000 people a day has been set up at Singapore Changi Airport. The health ministry plans to increase capacity in the near future.
All airlines within the Singapore Airlines Group (SIA) will be staffed with fully vaccinated staff including low-cost operator Scoot and Silk Air. The first flights were Scoot service TR606 to Bangkok and Silk Air flight MI608 for Phnom Penh.
The achievement, however, comes just two days after it emerged that a Singapore Airlines flight attendant had tested positive for COVID-19 just days after operating a turnaround flight to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Health officials believe the 41-year-old crew member may have been infected during the return flight after four passengers also tested positive for the novel Coronavirus.
The flight attendant had flown out to Dubai on January 30 and returned to Singapore on January 31 without ever stepping foot off the aircraft. She then received the first dose of the vaccine of February 2.
“As the vaccine does not contain live virus, she could not have been infected due to vaccination,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health explained. It can take at least two to three weeks to build up immunity after receiving the jab.
A couple of days later, the flight attendant lost her sense of taste and smell but did not seek medical attention. Only after routine testing did she then test positive for COVID-19.
Etihad Airways said on Wednesday that it would only operate flights with pilots and cabin crew who are fully inoculated against COVID-19. The Abu Dhabi-based airline has been using the Chinese manufactured Sinopharm vaccine for its vaccination programme.
The airline said that at least 75 per cent of its wider workforce had already received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Emirates in neighbouring Dubai has also launched a mass vaccination programme for its employees. The airline is expected to become the third fully vaccinated in the coming weeks.
Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience at a major Middle East and European airline. Mateusz is passionate about the aviation industry and helping aspiring flight attendants achieve their dreams. Cabin crew recruitment can be tough, ultra-competitive and just a little bit confusing - Mateusz has been there and done that. He's got the low down on what really works.