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Qantas Says the COVID-19 Jab Should Be Mandatory For All Airline Workers

Qantas Says the COVID-19 Jab Should Be Mandatory For All Airline Workers

Australian airline Qantas has raised the prospect of mandatory COVID-19 jabs for all airline workers saying that vaccinations “are the only way to end the cycle of lockdowns and border closures”. The news came on the same day that Sydney and its surrounding areas extended a lockdown for a further four weeks as officials struggle to contain a growing COVID-19 outbreak.

“Ever since a COVID-19 vaccine was approved the Qantas Group has strongly encouraged our people to get vaccinated and are offering paid time off to get the jab. We’ve also lobbied government for priority access to the vaccine for aviation workers,” the airline said in a statement on Wednesday.

Qantas said it supported COVID-19 vaccination becoming “a requirement” for all airline workers in Australia. citing the risk of frontline workers being infected with COVID-19, as well as the “severe disruptions” that come from outbreaks in the aviation industry.

“Another reason is that it’s already happening in several jurisdictions, here and overseas. The NSW, South Australia and New Zealand Governments have made vaccines mandatory for aviation workers supporting international services. Other states are looking at taking similar steps, including for domestic,” an airline spokesperson commented.

“To put it simply, the Qantas Group supports vaccination because we’re focussed on creating the safest environment we can.”

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has previously said that the airline would require all international customers to be fully vaccinated before being allowed to board one of its jets.

Joyce had been hoping to restart regularly scheduled international services in October but a botched vaccine rollout means border restrictions might remain in place until mid-2022 at the earliest.

Australians remain barred from leaving the country and at least 30,000 Australian citizens and permanent residents remain stranded abroad.

According to the Transport Workers Union around half of all airline workers across Australia have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 shot. That, however, didn’t prevent a Qantas regional flight attendant from being infected with COVID-19 earlier this month.

The flight attendant has been fined nearly $5,000 after helping to smuggle her boyfriend across the border from New South Wales into Queensland. He infected her with the highly transmissible Delta variant before she worked six flights across Queensland.

Officials said she then failed to immediately get tested and lied to contact tracers. She hasn’t yet returned to work but will be investigated by Qantas on her return.

Virgin Australia has also been encouraging its staff to get vaccinated and following the statement from Qantas, a spokesperson for Virgin Australia said the airline also supported a “vaccine mandate” for aviation workers.

In May, regional Australian airline Alliance Aviation said it wanted to make vaccination mandatory for all of its workers. Similar policies have been introduced for new employees at Delta and United Airlines in the United States.

Both carriers have however stopped short of making vaccination mandatory for current employees.

Photo Credit: Ryan Fletcher / Shutterstock.com

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