Etihad (لِلطَّيْرَان) of the United Arab Emirates and Singapore Airlines have been working to get all staff inoculated against COVID-19. Singapore had 90% of its staff registered for a vaccine dose by the end of January, 2021 but Etihad appears to have beaten them to it with its claim that all of its pilots and cabin crew member have been innoculated with a vaccine.
To do so, the Etihad Airways Medical Centre became an accredited Covid-19 vaccination clinic in December 2020 and Tony Douglas, Group CEO took the vaccine on 4th January, 2021 and staff were encouraged to attend inoculation clinics across the UAE. In total, 75% of Etihad’s total current workforce have been inoculated with at least one dose of a vaccine.
The United Arab Emirates, as a nation, has now vaccinated over four million people which is almost half of its population with one of four COVID-19 vaccines: Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinopharm, Sputnik V.
While Etihad staff will continue to don Personal Protective Equipment, their risk factor will fall enormously. This will allow the airline to restore services to more cities. Etihad (like almost every airline in the world) laid off hundreds of staff throughout last year while cutting Executive salaries by 50% and reducing other staff salaries for most of the year. It will probably be at least two years, maybe three before passenger numbers return to pre COVID-19 levels. This will mean a slow return to staffing levels.
The airline’s CEO has told Bloomberg Television that the airline’s future will be centered around forty to fifty Boeing 787s and a smaller number of Airbus 350s than originally planned (twelve instead of 62). Douglas said “The point really is to concentrate on the backbone, and the backbone for us is the 787,” He also indicated that their ten Airbus 380s may never return to service. I had planned to finally fly their 380 in June last year which never occurred, of course.
Etihad is also part of an initiative with the Abu Dhabi Department of Health called the Hope Consortium which aims to distribute 18 billion Covid-19 vaccines across the world by the end of 2021.
The faster the world can get to an effective level of immunity, the better. Thankfully, we have several sets of safe effective vaccines now and as we see more countries reach sufficient immunity levels, we will see the infection rates and death levels plummet. The challenge for the world is ensuring the world’s poorest are not left behind.
I have flown Etihad eleven times and rate them at 82% but find them consistently inconsistent. I had four trips booked with them in 2020, none of which I took. The airline reportedly had 102 planes in its fleet last year and pre COVID flew to 81 destinations.