airBaltic’s CEO today revealed ambitions to have his workforce entirely vaccinated by the middle of November. Martin Gauss said that 87% of the airline’s employees are already vaccinated or have developed natural immunity to COVID-19 following a recovery from the virus.
Around the world, the aviation industry is slowly returning to normality. A considerable part of this is due to increasing vaccination rates. At the weekend, Singapore announced slightly easier travel from a range of countries for the fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, many European countries have totally cut restrictions for those classed as fully vaccinated.
airBaltic to require COVID-19 vaccinations
Announcing his decision on Twitter, airBaltic’s CEO, Martin Gauss, today revealed that his airline will begin to require COVID-19 vaccines or proof of a COVID-19 recovery from November 15th. Being just over a month away, it may not be enough time for staff to get a double dose vaccine, although it won’t impact the vast majority of the airline’s team.
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According to Gauss, only 13% of his employees don’t currently possess protection against the deadly virus. In May, the airline began to rehire employees laid off at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic on the basis that they had been vaccinated before rejoining the airline.
Today @airBaltic decided to go for 100% mandatory vaccination for our entire staff by the 15. November. We are proud to have already 87% of our employees vaccinated or immune. pic.twitter.com/iyqSSHHfEx
— Martin Gauss (@Gaussm) October 12, 2021
A slight change in course
Gauss’ latest comments mark a departure from his previous views on the COVID-19 vaccine. In March, Simple Flying asked the Latvian flag carrier’s CEO about his point of view when it comes to vaccines. At the time, he told us it was not up to him to decide if employees should be vaccinated. Gauss told Simple Flying,
“I think I have no right to order it of an employee… I would like to have a situation that I can say all of our crews are vaccinated, but we cannot order people to do that.”
Not the only European airline requiring vaccinations
Of course, a lot has changed since Gauss made his comments in March. Back then, vaccinations programs were still getting underway in most of Europe. In the months since, vaccination has become an essential component of travel in many countries, with some countries requiring fully vaccinated crews. Gauss’s decision could, therefore, be an extension of policies being brought in by different nations. He had told Simple Flying,
“It could be that there are laws coming which say if you are working onboard an aircraft or in a different industry, you have to have a vaccine.”
As a result, many airlines in Europe and further afield are requiring vaccinations, particularly for crew. In late August, SWISS became one of the first in Europe to mandate vaccines, saying that all flying employees would need to be vaccinated by mid-November for operational and duty of care reasons.
While not being as public with its announcement, days later, a Lufthansa spokesperson confirmed to Simple Flying that it would require vaccination proof from all flight crew as “international flight operations will not be feasible in the future without mandatory Corona vaccination for aircraft crews.”