Singapore has begun vaccinating 37,000 workers in the aviation and maritime industries, according to a Jan. 18 Facebook post by Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung.
Speaking to aviation industry staff on the same day, he was quoted by Reuters as saying, "SIA (Singapore Airlines) can be the first vaccinated international airline of the world. Try to get that done."
A similar note was also struck by SIA CEO Goh Choon Phong who said that vaccines are expected to be a "game-changer" for facilitating the re-opening of international borders.
Goh added, "This will also be an important differentiator in the airline industry...I strongly urge everyone who is eligible, to get vaccinated as soon as possible."
13,000 maritime and aviation workers have already registered for vaccination
In his post, Ong further noted that 13,000 maritime and aviation workers had since registered for vaccination this week.
This includes airplane and port pilots, cabin crew, cargo handlers, transit lounge workers, local seafarers, ship and plane repair technicians, among others.
In addition, two vaccination centres have been established at Changi Airport's Terminal 4 and Raffles City, with capacity to be ramped up to 8,000 vaccinations a day.
Ong further said that the aim is to vaccinate most of the 37,000 workers in the coming two months given their contact with people and cargo outside Singapore.
Other airlines are also encouraging their staff to get vaccinated
SIA is not the only airline encouraging its workers to be vaccinated however.
The state carrier of the UAE, Emirates is also offering vaccines to all of its staff, Reuters further reported.
It is offering both the Pfizer-BioNTech and China's Sinopharm vaccines, with priority given to cabin crew, pilots and other operational staff.
Like SIA, Emirates also lacks a domestic market to soften the blow of Covid-19's impact on the aviation industry.
AFP further reported that Emirates has since restored its route network to 75 per cent of pre-pandemic levels and has flown in visitors from the UK and Russia.
This is despite the country reporting over 3,000 new Covid-19 cases on a daily basis.
The chief economist at Oxford Economics Middle East, Scott Livermore, was quoted as saying:
"Dubai seems to be positioning itself as the destination of choice for those wanting to escape lockdown conditions and have a winter break, especially given ski resorts in Europe are largely closed."
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Top photo from Ong Ye Kung Facebook