Image copyright Singapore Airlines Image caption Singapore Airlines plans to bring in a ‘single carrier’ Singapore plan for crew vaccination
In an effort to reduce the risk of a deadly flu virus from entering Singapore’s boardrooms, airline pilots, cabin crew and pilots’ engineers will be vaccinated against flu.
Some airlines are already introducing similar programmes to their crews. But Singapore Airlines is taking the extreme step of making a vaccine available to all its workers.
The company says a recent outbreak of H1N1 affected 74 people who became severely ill, among them two pilots.
The carrier says it could have “adversely affected business performance”.
Passengers are being warned to be on their guard with coughing and sneezing.
“All Singapore Airlines staff will undergo influenza vaccination in the next few weeks. This follows an outbreak of Influenza A, H1N1 (swine flu) in the aircraft cabin crew during May,” Singapore Airlines said in a statement.
“Passengers who return after working on the aircraft may pass the virus to our cabin crew.”
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The outbreak of Swine Flu in the cockpit
Singapore Airlines already has an extensive vaccine programme in place for staff.
The airline regularly inspects its planes for signs of flu and cleans them regularly.
“We have implemented an extensive policy to contain the virus from reaching its wild side,” the carrier said.
It has also asked for “very close cooperation” from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) which regulates the aviation industry and advises the government.
In 2004, the then CAAS chairman Dr Singapore Benjamin Fong said such a radical step would only be considered by a high-risk organisation.
“We would need to have strict compliance in terms of the execution of our flu policies. We would have to have very close cooperation with the public health authorities,” Dr Fong said at the time.
Singapore Airlines said a standard hepatitis vaccination was not enough to stem the spread of the flu virus.
“Our focus is on having the skills and capacity to prevent, detect and manage influenza,” said its chief customer officer, Low Teck Hwee.
“We have the technological platform and know-how to be able to achieve this with our wide based vaccine,” Mr Low added.
Singapore Airlines plans to bring in a “single carrier” plan for crew vaccination, under which staff, from pilots and cabin crews to flight attendants and ground crew, will be vaccinated from their aviation medical insurer.
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