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A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ben Suskind)

Singapore Airlines Group Operates Flights with Fully-Vaccinated Crew

Singapore Airlines, its sister airline SilkAir and its low-cost subsidiary Scoot — all representing the passenger contingent of the Singapore Airlines Group — have become some of the first airlines in the world to operate flights with a fully-vaccinated onboard crew of pilots and flight attendants, the latest step in the travel industry’s fight to bring passengers onboard amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first Singapore Airlines flight with a fully-vaccinated crew, SQ956, departed Singapore for Jakarta, Indonesia on Feb. 11 at 9:30 a.m. Scoot’s first flight with a fully-vaccinated crew, TR606, departed Singapore for Bangkok at the same time and SilkAir’s first flight with a fully-vaccinated crew, MI608, departed for Phnom Penh later in the afternoon at 4:30 p.m.

Although Singapore Airlines is one of the first airlines in the world to launch flights with a fully-vaccinated crew, Abu-Dhabi-based, Etihad Airways, was the first to announce it is the first airline in the world with 100% vaccinated crew on board. According to The Washington Post, Singapore Airlines’ crew had received the necessary two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for operating their first flights. Etihad’s crew, in contrast, has only received one of two doses required before Singapore Airlines operated their first flights on Thursday.

The Singaporean government has prioritized its airlines in the country’s vaccination effort, and it realizes Singapore Airlines Group’s importance in Singapore’s economic recovery and fight against Covid-19. In contrast to United Airlines, more than 90% of Singapore Airlines Group’s flight attendants and pilots have signed up for the vaccine to date.

“We are very encouraged by the strong take-up rate for the vaccine from our colleagues. Vaccinations will be key to the reopening of borders and to enhancing travel confidence.” Goh Choon Phong, Singapore Airlines’ CEO, said in a press release. “They offer greater protection for our people and provide an added layer of assurance to our customers.”

Worldwide Efforts

To recover from the negative impacts to air travel demand caused by COVID-19, many airlines around the world are trying to secure vaccines for their employees to bring back confidence in travelers. In the U.S., for example, United Airlines is fighting to secure vaccines for its pilots and flight attendants. Its CEO, Scott Kirby, however, was criticized last month for considering making it mandatory for its 60,000 employees to be vaccinated in order to work. A number of United employees have expressed they do not feel confident about receiving the vaccine despite Kirby contesting that he “knows that the vaccines are safe.”

Elsewhere, airlines are having more success. Etihad Airlines made headlines last week for becoming the first airline to vaccinate all of its onboard crew, securing doses of various COVID-19 vaccines for all pilots and flight attendants operating out of its Abu Dhabi superhub.

Israel-based El Al went a step further, as the airline recently announced it had vaccinated all of its customer-facing employees, a group that includes not just pilots and flight attendants but also employees serving various functions at airports across Israel. Israel is one of the world leaders in vaccinating its entire population, reaching approximately 70 doses administered per 100 people late last week.

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