Cathay Pacific confirmed on Tuesday that it had sacked a small number of pilots and cabin crew who failed to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or show evidence of a medical exemption. The Hong Kong-based carrier was one of the first airlines in the world to issue a vaccine mandate for aircrew and had given staff until the end of August to get the jab.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that as many as 60 to 80 pilots and cabin crew were in the firing line for refusing the vaccine. Around 99 per cent of pilots are fully vaccinated, while only 93 per cent of cabin crew had received both shots according to internal stats from the start of September.
The majority of unvaccinated crew are either exempt due to medical reasons or are on longterm leave. In a statement, a Cathay Pacific spokesperson said the airline had decided to “part company with a small number of aircrew” due to their continued refusal to get vaccinated.
“It’s clear to us all now that Covid-19 is a terrible virus and that keeping our customers, communities, and families safe is of the utmost importance,” the statement continued.
“Border controls around the world have dramatically reduced our ability to operate with unvaccinated aircrew,” the spokesperson explained. The same reason was cited by SWISS Air for bringing in its own vaccine mandate.
When Cathay Pacific first floated its vaccine mandate in June, only 65 per cent of cabin crew had been vaccinated despite widespread access to several approved vaccines including the Pfizer-BioNTech shot.
Last week, Alaska Airlines became the latest carrier to sidestep a full vaccine mandate and will instead make unvaccinated staff take regular COVID-19 tests. Delta Air Lines also backed away from a vaccine mandate by adding a surcharge to the health insurance policies of unvaccinated workers.
The airline noted that only unvaccinated workers had been admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 in recent weeks. Coronavirus related hospital stays were costing Delta around $50,000 per employee.
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.