August 18, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier | Image: Qantas

The major Australian airline will require all frontline airline staff – including cabin crew, pilots and airport workers – to be fully vaccinated by November 15, 2021, with the remainder of its staff to be vaccinated by March 31, 2022.

The new policy follows 12,000 responses to a survey sent to 22,000 Qantas and Jetstar staff to gauge their views of vaccination. Of the respondents, only four percent said they were unwilling or unable to be vaccinated, while 89 percent said they were already vaccinated or planned to be. In addition, approximately three quarters believed it should be a requirement for employees to be vaccinated and would be concerned if their colleagues were unvaccinated.

“Having a fully vaccinated workforce will safeguard our people against the virus but also protect our customers and the communities we fly to,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

“One crew member can fly into multiple cities and come into contact with thousands of people in a single day. Making sure they are vaccinated given the potential of this virus to spread is so important and I think it’s the kind of safety leadership people would expect from us.

“We provide an essential service, so this will help guard against the disruptions that can be caused by just one positive COVID-case shutting down a freight facility or airport terminal.

“It’s clear that vaccinations are the only way to end the cycle of lockdowns and border closures and for a lot of Qantas and Jetstar employees that means getting back to work again.

“This was one of the largest responses to any survey we’ve conducted, even with thousands of our people stood down, which shows just how important this is for them.

“Since vaccines became available, we’ve strongly encouraged all of our people to get the jab and are offering paid time off to get it done.”

Joyce acknowledged that there would be a small percentage of staff who would not want to be vaccinated.

“We understand there will be a very small number of people who decide not to get the vaccine, and that’s their right, but it’s our responsibility to provide the safest possible environment for our employees and for our customers.”

Sixty percent of staff who responded to the survey were already fully vaccinated, while around 75 percent had had one jab.