Singapore Airlines is urging all its employees to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. The carrier’s goal is to become the first fully-vaccinated airline in the world.
In addition to the airline’s cabin crews, the vaccination effort extends to gate agents, baggage handlers and cleaning crews, security screeners, passenger service agents and cargo handlers.
“Since our first call for volunteers went out last week, more than 5,200 staff have signed up and will get their vaccinations in the coming days,” said Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Phong Choon. “We hope more will do so in the coming days.”
Both Goh and Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, along with the airline’s union leaders and several hundred other airline employees.
Among the recipients was Captain Ramli Anwarsalim, a pilot with Singapore Airlines. “I have been really concerned about the spread of COVID-19,” Anwarsalim said. “Taking the vaccine is the most effective way to curb the spread of the virus and to prevent more lives from being lost. My other hope is that the vaccine will stand us in good stead, positioned for the recovery of the aviation industry.”
In all, some aviation 7,000 workers – including employees of Singapore Air and its subsidiary Scoot, and Jetstar Asia – have been scheduled to receive the shot this week, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore.
“Singapore Airlines can be the first vaccinated international airline of the world,” Ong told a press conference Monday kicking off the initiative. He described the campaign as an “important step” toward recovery for Singapore’s aviation industry and seaports.
The initiative, called the Sea-Air Vaccination Exercise (SAVE), is the Lion City’s effort to give the vaccine to every front-line worker across its aviation and maritime industries within two months.
“Vaccination is a priority for us. We have sufficient doses to vaccinate all 20,000 frontline air crew and airport workers,” said CAAS director general Kevin Shum in a statement. “More than 1,000 aviation workers have already received their first dose. We strongly encourage air crew and airport workers to come forward for vaccination.”
For aviation workers, the doses are being administered at the vaccination center at Changi Airport Terminal 4, which can currently handle up to 2,000 persons each day. Seaport and maritime workers are receiving their shots at Singapore’s Raffles City Convention Centre, where up to 1,000 can be vaccinated daily.
Upon receiving her shot, Singapore Airlines leading stewardess Geraldine Loo said, “My company telling me that I have been offered the chance to take the vaccine is the best news I have received. Once I have taken it, I can feel safe knowing that that is currently the best protection there is for me and my loved ones. On board flights, I am also assured that our passengers will feel safe in the knowledge that I have been vaccinated.”
While emphasizing that vaccination is voluntary for staff of the SIA Group staff, Goh strongly encouraged all eligible employees to take the opportunity to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
“Vaccinations are widely expected to be the game-changer in facilitating the opening of borders once again,” Goh said. “Being directly involved in the transportation of people and essential goods around the world, our business – and indeed our survival – ultimately depends on open borders. It will set the SIA Group up for a quicker recovery from this debilitating crisis, and provide a platform for us to return to pre-COVID operations.”