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Dubai, NFAPost: Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has become the first airline in the world with all its operating pilots and cabin crew vaccinated to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and give passengers who travel with the airline peace of mind.

In January 2021, Etihad was awarded Diamond status for ensuring the highest standards of cleanliness and sanitisation in the inaugural ‘APEX Health Safety, powered by SimpliFlying’ audit. The airline’s vaccination initiative has consolidated Etihad’s position as an industry leader in its response to the pandemic and in keeping its employees and travellers safe.

Expressing happiness over the achievement at a time when airlines industry is going through a turbulent phase, Etihad Aviation Group Group Chief Executive Officer Tony Douglas said the company proactively made the vaccine available to all employees to not only help combat the effects of Covid-19 but to make travellers feel confident and reassured the next time they fly with us.

“We are the only airline in the world to make COVID-19 testing mandatory for every passenger and crew member before every flight and now, we’re the first airline in the world with 100% vaccinated crew on board,” said Tony Douglas.

Tony Douglas also pointed out that he chose very early on to be vaccinated to demonstrate his own support of the national vaccination programme and to encourage everyone at Etihad who was eligible for the vaccine, to receive it as soon as possible. “I would like to thank the entire Etihad family for everything they have done to help us reach this milestone – I am truly humbled,” said Tony Douglas.

This achievement was made possible through Etihad’s ‘Protected Together’ employee vaccination initiative which was formally launched in January this year. Building on the UAE’s Choose to Vaccinate campaign, Protected Together is about helping staff take proactive, personal steps towards protecting themselves against Covid-19.

In 2020, Etihad took significant steps towards supporting employees to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. In collaboration with the health authorities, the airline facilitated access for its frontline staff to the UAE’s Emergency Use Programme. Etihad was one of the first employers in the capital to secure places for their frontline staff – including pilots and cabin crew – in Abu Dhabi’s vaccination programme. Etihad also ensured the Etihad Airways Medical Centre became an accredited Covid-19 vaccination clinic.

Etihad Aviation Group Vice President Medical Services and CSR Nadia Bastaki said following the national vaccination programme, Etihad worked tirelessly to become an approved Covid-19 vaccination clinic to support our staff, and their dependants, be able to easily access the vaccine.

“Since December 2020, we have been offering in-house vaccination appointments to our employees and their loved ones to ensure we are focused on our employee’s wellbeing,” said Nadia Bastaki.

To help further grow employee confidence, the Protected Together initiative includes virtual talks to connect staff with leading medical professionals, mobile clinics so employees can receive the vaccine at work, and staff are provided access to simple and clear vaccine information.

Following the UAE Government’s target to vaccinate half of the UAE population by the end of March 2021, Etihad is ahead of schedule with over 75% of its entire workforce already having received at least one dose of the vaccine. With even more activity still planned as part of the Protected Together initiative, this figure will continue to grow as more employees step forward and choose to vaccinate.  

In an effort to protect residents and citizens of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad thanks the relevant authorities for their support in making the vaccine accessible to achieve nationwide immunity. Currently, the UAE has the second highest vaccination rate in the world.

Commenting on the company’s vaccination drive, Etihad Airways pilot Captain Shareef Al Romaithi said he chose to vaccinate to make a small but important contribution towards helping overcome this pandemic.

“I am very grateful that the UAE government and Etihad have made it so easy to protect ourselves against COVID-19 with the vaccine. As I work on the frontline for Etihad, this gives me additional peace of mind, to safely carry out our operation,” said the pilot Captain Shareef Al Romaithi.

When asked about the company’s initiative, cabin crew Amy Lewis said he chose to vaccinate because it felt like the right thing to do, both personally and professionally.

“I feel more at ease knowing that I am vaccinated and, in my role as Cabin Crew, I know that it will be important for global air travel. I also feel that I can better reassure guests who may be anxious or nervous about flying during COVID-19,” said cabin crew Amy Lewis.

Etihad Airways Vice President Flight Operations Captain Sulaiman Yaqoobi said making sure that the company’s frontline crew have easy access to the Covid-19 vaccine has played a critical role in ensuring their safety and wellbeing.

“Providing our workforce with this additional level of protection will also help safeguard our operation, allowing us to perform optimally despite the current challenges,” said Sulaiman Yaqoobi.

The company’s cabin crew Eliza-Violeta Hristu said as soon as Etihad included cabin crew in the frontliners vaccination programme, it seemed like a natural decision to receive the vaccine.

“Along with mask-wearing and social distancing, this vaccine is our chance to defeat COVID-19. I chose to protect myself and in turn my guests by getting vaccinated,” said Eliza-Violeta Hristu.

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