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Cathay Pacific must require COVID-19 vaccinations for HK aviation personnel by 31 August

cathay pacific

A passenger goes to first class counter from Cathay Pacific Airways at Hong Kong Airport in Hong Kong, China April 4, 2018. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said on Thursday that all Hong Kong-based pilots and flight attendants should be vaccinated against COVID-19 by August 31 or risk losing their jobs in one of the toughest policies of the aviation industry.

Cathay said it had struggled with staff stays due to Hong Kong’s strict return quarantine rules that have been loosened for the crew who have been vaccinated. There are also requirements that only fully vaccinated crews can operate to specific high-risk destinations and on quarantine-free “bubble” flights.

Hong Kong has a surplus of unused vaccines and some of the shots are about to expire, city officials have said.

Cathay said 90% of pilots and more than 65% of the cabin crew had already been vaccinated or had vaccination appointments following an earlier warning that vaccination would most likely become mandatory.

“We understand that there will be some who cannot take a vaccine and we will look into meeting them in the short term where we can,” the airline said in a statement.

“However, we will review the future employment of those who are unable to be vaccinated and assess whether they can continue to be employed as flight crews at Cathay Pacific.”

Cathay’s new policy was first reported by the South China Morning Post and comes amid various industry entrances to herd vaccinations.

United Airlines Holdings Inc said on Tuesday it would require full vaccination for crew members flying to countries with high COVID-19 cases in early August, while Delta Air Lines Inc last month said all new hires should be vaccinated.

Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd has said it will require all passengers and crew to be vaccinated when the country’s borders are reopened to spread international travel.

Emirates has been providing staff with free vaccines since January and later told staff they had to be vaccinated or pay for regular tests to prove they were not infected.

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