Hawaiian Airlines became the third U.S. carrier to mandate COVID-19 vaccination or regular testing for employees on Monday following similar announcements from United Airlines and Frontier last week. Chief executive Peter Ingram likened the mandate to any other safety measure that airlines must adhere to.
Employees must have received their final COVID-19 jab by November 1 or face potential dismissal. In comparison, United has set October 25 as the very latest date for employees to be fully vaccinated, while Frontier will require employees to have received a COVID-19 shot by October 1.
Ingram said there would, however, be exceptions for limited medical and religious reasons. “There is no greater demonstration of our values than ensuring the safety of others,” Ingram said in a staff memo on Monday.
“Safety is the foundation of air travel, and it is ingrained throughout our operation and service. This is no different.”
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) which represents crew members at Hawaiian, Frontier and United Airlines supports mandatory vaccination and has told its members that airlines requiring they get jabbed shouldn’t come as “a big surprise”.
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said recently it would be “difficult” to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for either existing employees or passengers until the vaccines have received full FDA approval. They are currently administered under an emergency use authorization.
The FDA has suggested that the Pfizer / BioNTech shot could be first in line to win full approval by early next month.
In February, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways announced it had become the world’s first fully vaccinated airline after it decided to only staff flights with doubled jabbed pilots and cabin crew. The airline managed to roll out the vaccine so quickly by using the Chinse Sinopharm shot.
Cathay Pacific has also told frontline staff to get vaccinated or face an employment review after voluntary measures to encourage vaccination only had a limited impact. Doug Parker, chief executive of American Airlines told the New York Times last week that his airline would continue encouraging vaccine uptake instead of issuing a mandate.
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 relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.