Etihad Airways places its crew in total containment for at least 10 days on Omicron Surge

Etihad Airways is putting all flight personnel in full containment for at least 10 days from Christmas Eve, as the airline has been “hit hard” by the new Omicron wave. Over the past week, COVID-19 cases have increased by more than 50% in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), breaking the barrier of 1,000 daily infections for the first since August.

Cabin crew will be prohibited from leaving their homes after 8 p.m. on December 24 for at least 10 days. In an internal memo, the Abu Dhabi-based carrier said it hopes the strict 10-day lockdown will give the airline “the time it takes to reset and stop the spread of new infections within the community (de the crew)”.

Photo credit: Etihad Airways

“As a community we have been hit hard by this new wave, in fact, worse than ever before and not it literally stops us in our tracks by possibly limiting our ability to continue operations as planned,” the memo, which we examined, reads.

“The disruption is now a very real prospect so as an airline we had to make a very difficult and controversial decision and believe us it was not taken lightly,” the memo continued.

“Much discussion has taken place in the previous days since cases started to escalate with this decision being seen as a last resort and a worst-case scenario and we fear it has come to this point.”

Lockdown restrictions are so strict that crews will only be allowed to leave their homes to shop twice a week and only for one hour at a time. Visitors will be banned and gymnasiums and swimming pools closed. Company security will “monitor the movements” of crews living in shared accommodation.

While the lockdown is not legally enforceable, crews that do not play by the rules will be immediately terminated.

Etihad placed the crew in a similar lockdown at the start of the pandemic and a second internal lockdown was imposed in early 2021 because the airline feared ‘brand damage’.

Etihad became the first airline in the world to only employ flights with a fully vaccinated crew, but Abu Dhabi relied on China’s Sinopharm vaccine for its initial vaccination campaign. A recent study found that a booster shot of the Sinopharm injection offered “significantly weaker” neutralizing activity against the Omicron variant.

Abu Dhabi is also using the mRNA vaccines Pfizer and Moderna as part of its recall program.

“We know the timing of this lockdown is far from ideal, but as we’ve seen COVID-19 shows us no mercy,” the emo continued. “We’ve come so far in the past 24 months to let our guard down now. If we do, all the hardships and sacrifices would have been in vain and we have gone too far to let the virus win. “

Delta and United Airlines canceled hundreds of flights between them on Friday due to a staff shortage caused by increased levels of illness attributed by the Omicron variant.

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Mateusz Maszczynski

Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the Middle East’s largest airline and flew throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centered stories. Always listening to the field, Matt’s news, analysis and media coverage are frequently used by some of the biggest names in journalism.

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