Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) has just decided to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for its entire flight personnel as of November 15. The decision has been made in response to worldwide entry restrictions and the increase in proof of vaccination requirements for aircrews as well. Just recently, Hong Kong became the first SWISS destination to demand – effective immediately – proof of vaccination for flight crews arriving from certain countries, Switzerland included.
According to the SWISS press release, the separation of vaccinated and unvaccinated crews and the resulting organizational complexities of creating separate rosters would make it impossible to ensure a long-term robust and reliable flight operation. This could well mean the discontinuation of service on some routes, which would seriously undermine the effectiveness of the SWISS hub system. Not to mention the fact that separate handling of flight crews would also entail inequality in employment terms.
Moreover, as a global airline, and given the sufficient availability of effective vaccines, SWISS also wishes to fully perform its duty of care towards its cockpit and cabin personnel. “We must initiate this action now,” said SWISS CEO Dieter Vranckx, “if we are to continue to maintain our global route network and fulfill our care obligations towards our employees.”
In its decision to adopt the vaccination requirement, SWISS is supported by corresponding provisions in the collective labor agreements with its cockpit and cabin personnel, which provide for such action under these conditions. SWISS further emphasized it is also conducting an open and transparent dialogue with its social partners on the planned mandate.