Aviation revolves around safety. If there is something we, as an industry, can reasonably do to lower risk, we do it.
Ever since a COVID-19 vaccine was approved the Qantas Group has strongly encouraged our people to get vaccinated and are offering paid time off to get the jab. We’ve also lobbied government for priority access to the vaccine for aviation workers.
We’ve done this not just because vaccinations are the only way to end the cycle of lockdowns and border closures, but because they are proven to be one of the strongest layers of protection against the potentially serious heath impact of this virus.
While all the data shows that the risk of COVID transmission onboard aircraft remains very low, and there are many safeguards at airports, nothing reduces the risk to health like the vaccines approved for use in Australia. That’s critical for our frontline teams, who come into contact with thousands of people each day.
The Qantas Group is responsible for an essential service, meaning that we need to guard against severe disruptions. We’ve seen that just one COVID positive employee can inadvertently shut down a freight facility or passenger terminal, which can have a big impact on the broader community and economy.
These are some of the key reasons why we believe a COVID vaccine should be a requirement for all aviation workers in Australia.
Another reason is that it’s already happening in several jurisdictions, here and overseas. The NSW, South Australia and New Zealand Governments have made vaccines mandatory for aviation workers supporting international services. Other states are looking at taking similar steps, including for domestic.
We welcome this, but without a national approach we’ll wind up with a patchwork of rules between the borders that our people cross multiple times a day. This is something National Cabinet is considering, along with possible vaccine mandates in other sectors.
To put it simply, the Qantas Group supports vaccination because we’re focussed on creating the safest environment we can.
We understand there are a lot of complicating factors for our people – including access to the vaccine and those who don’t want the vaccine or still have unanswered questions about it. But we need to find a path through those challenges if aviation is to return to normal.