By Connor Sadler
Emirates Operates First Flight With Fully Vaccinated Frontline Staff
Emirates has operated its first flight where all staff involved have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. The news comes just over a week after Singapore Airlines announced its crew had operated fully-vaccinated flights, which followed on from Emirates’ rival Etihad operating its first such flight just days prior.
However, Emirates took it a step further, with flight 215 from Dubai to Los Angeles operating with all airport and onboard customer experience staff fully vaccinated. This includes check-in, security, lounge and gate employees. Additionally, the engineers, pilots, cleaning, handling and loading teams had also received the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Emirates Group, comprising of Emirates Airline and dnata, started its vaccination drive in January. Since then, around 44% of its U.A.E. frontline workforce have received both vaccine doses.
Almost 5,000 Emirates cabin and flight deck crewmembers have opted to receive both vaccine doses, according to an airline press release, adding that thousands more Emirates Group staff have also already been inoculated against the coronavirus across the U.A.E.
“We’ve seen a very positive response with high demand and take-up of the Covid-19 vaccine from our colleagues at the operational frontline, and there’s continued momentum in the rate of vaccinations across the business,” Adel Al Redha, Emirates Airline Chief Operating Officer, said in the press release.
“With the rapid progress of our own vaccination program and high rates of take-up, more of our flights will soon be operating with fully vaccinated frontline employees,” he said. “We are also confident that with more people being vaccinated, combined with strong safety measures in place, we can all look forward to the easing of border entry guidelines for many countries.”
The U.A.E is currently on track to have immunized over half its population by the end of March. As of writing, Oxford’s Our World In Data reported the Arab nation has vaccinated the most per 100 population in the world.
“Our operational workforce are at the aviation frontline, helping people get to where they need to be, and moving essential goods to global communities. Protecting our people with vaccinations is important – for them, for our community, for the smooth running of our operations, and also for our customers as it introduces an additional layer of protection when they travel with us,” Al Redha said.
Israel’s El Al is another airline to hit a vaccination milestone. Israel Hayom reports all of the airline’s customer-facing staff have been given the Pfizer vaccine. The Israeli flag carrier’s staff are all reported to have been immunized by their own health providers. Etihad and Emirates, however, are both running vaccination drives for their staff.
Around the world, countries are vaccinating their populations against COVID-19. And airlines are doing their best to ensure that travelers are comfortable flying as soon as possible.
Different countries are prioritizing people in different ways. The U.K., for instance, is targeting those most vulnerable to the virus through age and health conditions first. It is still to be reported how Britain will prioritize who should receive them after those groups have been vaccinated.
Frontline workers such as bus drivers, couriers and teachers, have been suggested to be prioritized so aviation staff may not be too far in the future. This is already happening in some parts of the U.S. Condé Nast Traveler reports select states in the U.S. are offering inoculations to essential workers like flight crews, including Illinois and New York.