Dubai airline Emirates offers Pfizer, Sinopharm vaccines to staff

DUBAI (Reuters) - Dubai airline Emirates on Monday began offering employees vaccinations against the COVID-19 disease with priority given to cabin crew, pilots and other operational staff.

FILE PHOTO: Emirates airliners are seen on the tarmac in a general view of Dubai International Airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates January 13, 2021. REUTERS/Abdel Hadi Ramahi

The state carrier’s management say global inoculation is key to any recovery for the travel industry, which they believe could happen this year if vaccines are rolled out at scale.

Parent company Emirates Group said vaccines were being offered to all of its staff in the United Arab Emirates.

The group, which also includes airport services company dnata, employs around 80,000 globally.

It said it was offering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and another developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), which are already available to the public in the UAE with certain groups being prioritised.

Singapore Airlines is also encouraging its staff to get vaccinated.

Both Emirates and Singapore Airlines lack a domestic market that could cushion against international border closures, which have decimated the global travel industry.

UAE officials are encouraging the public to get vaccinated with new infections rising to more than 3,000 a day this month for the first time.

The Gulf state aims to vaccinate more than 50% of its roughly 9 million population in the first quarter.

Most coronavirus restrictions have been lifted in Dubai, which has seen an influx of overseas visitors during its peak tourism season while governments elsewhere impose new lockdowns.

Social distancing and mask-wearing are still required throughout the UAE.

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Kirsten Donovan