Qantas now requires all cabin crew, pilots and airport workers to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
The Australian airline has set a deadline of November 15 for employees working on the front line of operations to receive both doses of a Covid-19 jab.
All remaining Qantas employees have a little longer to get vaccinated, but must be fully inoculated before March 31.
The rules don’t apply to staff who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, although the airline says this is “expected to be very rare".
A survey of 12,000 people working at both Qantas and the group's low-cost airline Jetstar revealed that 89 per cent of staff had plans to get vaccinated. Four per cent of respondents said they were unwilling or unable to get the jab.
About three-quarters of employees who responded said they believed vaccination should be a requirement and would be concerned if other employees in the workplace weren’t inoculated.
A further 7 per cent of staff said they were undecided or did not want to state their preference on receiving a Covid-19 jab.
“Having a fully vaccinated workforce will safeguard our people against the virus but also protect our customers and the communities we fly to," said Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce.
“One crew member can fly into multiple cities and come into contact with thousands of people in a single day. Making sure they are vaccinated given the potential of this virus to spread is so important and I think it’s the kind of safety leadership people would expect from us."
Paid time off for Covid-19 jabs
The airline is offering employees paid time off to go and receive vaccinations in an effort to boost uptake.
“It’s clear that vaccinations are the only way to end the cycle of lockdowns and border closures and for a lot of Qantas and Jetstar employees that means getting back to work again. This was one of the largest responses to any survey we’ve conducted, even with thousands of our people stood down, which shows just how important this is for them," said Joyce.
“We understand there will be a very small number of people who decide not to get the vaccine, and that’s their right, but it’s our responsibility to provide the safest possible environment for our employees and for our customers."
Qantas said that further discussions will take place with employees, their health and safety representatives and unions over the coming weeks on the details of the policy, including how medical exemptions will be applied and what will happen to staff who do not receive vaccines.
Several other airlines around the world have set the same standards for staff in terms of receiving Covid-19 vaccinations. Etihad, the national airline of the UAE, was the first in the world to have 100 per cent of its flight crew fully vaccinated against the virus.
The Abu Dhabi airline also requires all passengers boarding jets to have a negative Covid-19 test before being accepted for travel, no matter the rules of their destination.
It's not the first time that Qantas has demonstrated its belief that vaccinations are the way forward for the travel industry. The airline recently promised perks to travellers who get vaccinated, with free flights for a year up for grabs for Australian passengers who are fully inoculated against the virus.