Rex to give tighter deadline than Qantas and Virgin for staff vaccination

Rex Airlines is set to join other Australian carriers, namely Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia in implementing a policy of mandatory vaccination applicable for all airline employees. Though it was not the first carrier to carry out such decision, the deadline Rex Airlines proposed is tighter than its two predecessors.

The largest Australian regional carrier announced that all front-line employees who have constant contact with airline customers will be required to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus by November 1, 2021. The new rule will affect flight crew and cabin crew members as well as airport personnel across its regional and domestic networks, the airline noted in its statement dated September 20, 2021.

Even though the new policy has not come into the effect yet, the carrier has already had initial consultations with various unions and conducted an employee survey. The company claimed that the results showed that only 2% of the entire staff opposed getting the vaccine for medical or other reasons, and 8% were doubtful about vaccination. According to Rex, the majority of its workforce has either already been fully vaccinated, received their first vaccination or had booked an appointment to get the shot.

“As the survey shows, Rex staff has overwhelmingly embraced this responsibility and has done its part to keep the nation safe,“ Hon John Sharp, the deputy chairman of Rex Airlines, was quoted in the statement.

“As we provide an essential service operating to regional centers and remote communities throughout Australia, it is incumbent upon us to do whatever we can to help those residents remain safe and healthy,“ Sharp continued.

With the recent decision, Rex Airlines joined two other Australian airlines, Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia, which have already ordered their employees to vaccinate. 

In August 2021, Qantas Airways, warned that all of its 22,000 employees who have frequent contact with passengers, including flight crew, cabin crew, and ground handling staff, would be required to get fully vaccinated by November 15, 2021. The remaining part of the staff must get their last vaccine shot by March 31, 2022. 

A few weeks later after the news regarding staff vaccination emerged, the flag carrier of Australia warned that from December 2021, it would also tighten up flying rules for unvaccinated passengers. The airline notified it would ban unvaccinated travelers on its international flights once Australia’s borders reopen, meaning that all customers intending to board international flights would be asked to prove that they are vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. 

Meanwhile, Virgin Australia also made the vaccination mandatory for all its frontline staff, also giving November 15, 2021, as a deadline for getting the second vaccine dose. Speaking to the media on August 30, 2021, the airline’s chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka noted that the mandatory staff vaccination could have a significant impact on general vaccination rates in the country. In turn, this could result in accelerated border reopening, which is expected to happen as early as the upcoming Christmas of 2021. 

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