With international travel still largely off-limits and no sign of when it might return for residents of Hong Kong, the territory’s home town airline Cathay Pacific is trying to incentivise vaccine-hesitant residents to get the shot with the offer of a once-in-a-lifetime party flight on the airline’s new Airbus A321neo.
While other airlines including United and Qantas are offering lucky frequent flyers the opportunity to win free flights for a year, the latest competition from Cathay Pacific is perhaps an acknowledgement that for residents of Hong Kong, that kind of prize wouldn’t be very useful.
Instead, Cathay’s vaccine incentive grand prize will give a fully-vaccinated winner the chance to host a party on a ‘flight to nowhere’ in the skies around Hong Kong. Other winners who take up the call to get vaccinated against COVID-19 could win a share of 20 million Asia Miles in a lucky draw.
The airline has been attempting to convince its own employees to get vaccinated, although take-up has been mixed. Over 80 per cent of pilots have either had the shot or arranged an appointment but that drops to just 50 per cent of eligible cabin crew.
Cathay Pacific said it would now offer employees a pre-vaccination health assessment in an attempt to allay fears as part of its attempts to increase vaccination rates. Employees are also being offered two extra days of annual leave and the chance to win a whole host of goodies including free flights and frequent flyer miles.
“We hope many more of our employees will follow their example as we all work together to help build an immune barrier in Hong Kong as soon as possible,” commented Cathay Pacific chief executive Augustus Tang who said he recognised the concerns of staff over the vaccine.
“As Hong Kong’s home airline, Cathay Pacific strongly believes in the importance of vaccination against Covid-19, which is key to the resumption of regular international air travel and the return to normal life for everyone in Hong Kong.”
The brand new single-aisle Airbus A321neo was originally destined for regional subsidiary Cathay Dragon. That brand was, however, closed down last year as part of Cathay’s response to the pandemic.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently used by some of the biggest names in journalism.