SYDNEY - Australian airline Qantas said Wednesday it would make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory for staff, as the company bids to get planes back into the skies.
The national carrier is one of the first major Australian firms to mandate vaccines for employees, saying the rule would also apply to its budget offshoot Jetstar.
Pilots, cabin crew and airport staff must be fully vaccinated by November 15, with other staff members given until March 31 next year.
"Having a fully vaccinated workforce will safeguard our people against the virus but also protect our customers and the communities we fly to," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement.
Qantas' new rule comes after Australia's conservative government said it would not make vaccines mandatory but would leave businesses to implement their own policies.
The airline said a staff survey found 89 percent were willing to be vaccinated or already had been, while 4 percent were unwilling or unable.
"It's clear that vaccinations are the only way to end the cycle of lockdowns and border closures and for a lot of Qantas and Jetstar employees that means getting back to work again," Joyce said.
The airline, which has thousands of employees furloughed due to pandemic travel disruptions, has been a vocal advocate of vaccines as it attempts to revive its business.
Qantas previously said it would require international travelers to be vaccinated and has announced prize draws to entice Australians to get the jab.