Etihad Airways has become the first major airline in the world to vaccinate all of its “operating” pilots and flight attendants, which is a pretty awesome achievement (EL AL, meanwhile, has become the first airline to vaccinate all customer-facing employees).
As Etihad describes it, this helps curb the spread of COVID-19, and gives passengers peace of mind. Etihad also claims to be the only airline in the world to require all passengers and crew to be tested before every flight.
Etihad employees started getting vaccinated in December 2020 under the UAE’s Emergency Use Program, and Etihad was one of the first employers in Abu Dhabi to secure vaccinations for frontline staff. Etihad Airways’ Medical Centre also became an accredited COVID-19 vaccination clinic, making the process easy. Not only are Etihad employees getting vaccinated, but also their families.
While all pilots and flight attendants operating flights have already been vaccinated, other employee groups, like airport agents, ramp workers, etc., are still in the process of being vaccinated. Interestingly Etihad isn’t mandating vaccinations for employees, but has stated that employees who choose not to get vaccinated won’t be entitled to sick leave or health insurance benefits through the company, should they get coronavirus.
As it stands, 75% of Etihad’s entire workforce has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and that number is expected to continue to grow. This is part of the UAE’s goal to vaccinate half of the UAE population by the end of March 2021.
As Tony Douglas, Etihad Group CEO, describes this development:
“We proactively made the vaccine available to all our employees to not only help combat the effects of COVID-19 but to make travellers feel confident and reassured the next time they fly with us. We are the only airline in the world to make COVID-19 testing mandatory for every passenger and crew member before every flight and now, we’re the first airline in the world with 100% vaccinated crew on board.”
How cool to see that all operating Etihad pilots and flight attendants have now been vaccinated. It’s exciting to see the progress being made on the vaccine front. The UAE has the benefit of being well off and having a small population, so rolling out widespread vaccinations quickly is easier than in some other countries.
All of this gives me a lot of hope for the future. Here’s to hoping that vaccine distribution only continues to speed up around the world, and that life can eventually return to (a new?) normal.