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Qantas tells all staff to get vaccinated or risk being sacked

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Qantas tailfins
Qantas tailfins

Qantas has told all its 26,000 workers to get double vaccinated against coronavirus or risk being fired.

Australia's national carrier said all frontline staff including cabin crew, pilots and airport workers must be jabbed by mid-November, with the remainder of staff being inoculated by the end of March.

Employees unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons will be exempt, but Qantas said it expected “very few” staff to fall into this category.

The requirement covers both Qantas and its budget offshoot, Jetstar, and is in line with Australia's tough policy aimed at eradicating Covid.

Qantas has been one of the airlines to recover fastest from the pandemic, although new lockdowns to combat the delta variant have knocked the rebound off course.

Alan Joyce, Qantas chief executive, said: “Having a fully vaccinated workforce will safeguard our people against the virus but also protect our customers and the communities we fly to.

“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.”

Qantas provides an “essential service”, he said, adding the policy will protect against “disruptions that can be caused by just one positive Covid-case shutting down a freight facility or airport terminal”.

The policy was instigated after a survey of the airline’s workforce found that 89pc of them had already been vaccinated or was planning to be, while 4pc were unwilling or unable to be jabbed.

It also revealed that about three-quarters of staff thought vaccination should be mandatory and would be concerned that colleagues were not.

Mr Joyce said: “It’s clear 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.”

A fortnight ago Qantas furloughed 2,500 staff for an expected two months in response to the latest Covid outbreaks in Australia.

Mr Joyce called it a “difficult decision” but said it “reflected the reality confronting many businesses operating in New South Wales”, although he did not expect any job losses among employees being stood down.

Australia's prime minister, Scott Morrison, called Qantas’ policy “fair and well intentioned”. He has previously ruled out making vaccinations mandatory.

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