Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways told employees on Thursday they must get vaccinated against Covid-19 or face losing their jobs, marking one of the sector’s strictest policies as airlines deliberate how to safely reopen domestic and international air travel after months of being hampered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Cathay Pacific told Hong Kong-based staff their future with the company would be subject to “review” if they have not been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of August, South China Morning Post first reported.
The stringent requirement—which Brisbane, Australia-based Alliance also adopted in May—exceeds that of other major airlines, which have mostly focused on encouraging their employees to get the shots or required vaccination only in limited circumstances.
U.S.-based United Airlines said Tuesday it will soon require crew flying to high-risk countries like India, Brazil and Chile to be fully vaccinated and, along with Delta, will now need new employees to prove they have been fully immunized.
Dubai’s Emirates strongly encourages crew to get vaccinated, which is free, or else pay for regular testing themselves, pointing to the “operational” as well as “health and safety” hazards of an unvaccinated workforce.
The head of Australia’s Qantas has stated the airline’s intent to mandate vaccination for crew and passengers alike when there is sufficient domestic supply and borders reopen, with plans to change its terms and conditions to make them a “necessity” for anyone traveling.
Airlines, and the travel sector as a whole, faces a more complicated return to normal than most industries, having to navigate the complexities of creating a safe environment for passengers and staff while navigating a patchwork of different regulations and pandemic situations across various borders. Vaccine mandates are one possibility, but could potentially open the company to costly litigation—in the U.S., at least, it is a relatively untested area of law—and employees leaving if they do not comply, not all of whom may be easily replaced given labor shortages. United’s CEO wants to make vaccines mandatory for all the airline’s staff but said it can only “realistically” do so if it is joined by other airlines.
In February, UAE-based Etihad said it had become the first airline in the world to have had all on-board crew fully vaccinated.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Airlines have mostly shied away from instituting vaccine requirements on passengers themselves. At the moment, with international travel still heavily restricted, it is something governments have taken on themselves, though this may change as things reopen.
This article originally appeared on Forbes