SWISS International Airlines has become the latest carrier to make COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for all pilots and cabin crew. Flying personnel will have until November 15 to get fully vaccinated or risk being dismissed.
But aside from the obvious public health argument, SWISS admitted it was introducing its vaccine mandate because it was becoming too complicated to run an airline with vaccinated and unvaccinated crew.
An increasing number of countries and territories are bringing in vaccination rules for travellers and while crew are mostly exempt from these rules, these exemptions look likely to be removed very soon.
SWISS says it was forced to act when Hong Kong imposed vaccination requirements for crew with immediate effect.
“A separate organizational management of vaccinated and unvaccinated crew members and the resulting increased complexity of the rostering involved would make it impossible to ensure continued robust and reliable flight operations in the longer term,” a statement from the airline explained.
“Some destinations and regions could no longer be served, and this in turn would seriously diminish the effectiveness of the SWISS hub system.”
SWISS chief executive Dieter Vranckx said the airline was forced to take action now or face cancelling flights.
Provisions within collective labour agreements at the Lufthansa-owned airline make it possible to bring in the vaccine mandate.
Many airlines already mandate the yellow fever vaccine for flying personnel because it would otherwise be impossible to operate flights to sub Saharan Africa. Mandating the COVID-19 vaccine when it is being administered under emergency use approval has, however, proved controversial.
United Airlines became the first U.S.-based carrier to introduce a vaccine mandate for all existing employees. Yesterday’s decision by the FDA to grant the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (Cominarty) full approval brings forward the deadline for United staffers to get vaccinated to September 27.
Frontier and Hawaiian Airlines have also introduced similar vaccine mandates, while Alaska Airlines is poised to bring in compulsory vaccine following the FDA decision.
A slew of airlines around the world have brought in their own vaccine mandates including Cathay Pacific and Malaysian Airlines.
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.