* Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines among those with mandates
* Voluntary take-up is high at carriers in Philippines
* Asia-Pacific international travel down 95% from pre-COVID levels (Adds changes to Cathay crew rules)
SINGAPORE/KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Asian airlines are reporting high vaccination take-up rates among pilots and cabin crew as they wait for the region’s tight pandemic-related border controls to be relaxed.
International travel in the Asia-Pacific region remains down about 95% from pre-pandemic levels, and concerns about the Delta variant have led to even stricter quarantines or flight caps in some places, leaving many air crew members idle and hoping for a recovery.
Singapore Airlines Ltd, Malaysia Airlines, Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd and Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd are among those requiring crew to be vaccinated or risk losing their jobs.
Singapore Airlines said 99% of active pilots and cabin crew had been vaccinated ahead of a Sept. 1 deadline, as well as all frontline ground staff. Malaysia Airlines said all active pilots and cabin crew had received vaccines as had 95% of Malaysia-based employees under a policy set in July.
Qantas on Wednesday said all employees must be vaccinated, while Cathay has mandated it for pilots and cabin crew by Aug. 31.
Cathay said on Thursday in a memo to staff that only vaccinated crews would be able to operate flights to countries Hong Kong considers “high risk” starting on Friday in return for a halving of quarantine time on return to one week.
However, hours later, it sent a second memo seen by Reuters saying the rules had not eased and crews would need to quarantine for 14 days when returning from countries like Britain.
Cathay said last week 99% of pilots and 91% of cabin crew had booked or received vaccinations.
Even in places like the Philippines where crew vaccinations are voluntary, carriers are reporting high take-up rates.
Philippine Airlines said 90% of flight crew were vaccinated, while budget carrier Cebu Pacific said 92% of its workforce, including 97% of pilots, were inoculated. AirAsia Philippines said 92% of its workers had received doses, including 97% of cabin crew.
In Taiwan, China Airlines Ltd said all pilots and cabin crew had completed at least their first dose, while EVA Airways Corp said more than 90% of air crew had received both doses. The Taiwanese carriers did not specify whether vaccinations were mandatory or voluntary.
United Airlines Inc this month became the first U.S. airline to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all domestic employees, a move that was followed by Hawaiian Airlines . (Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore and Liz Lee in Kuala Lumpur; additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales in Manila, Ben Blanchard in Taipei and Jamie Freed in Sydney; writing by Jamie Freed. Editing by Gerry Doyle and Karishma Singh)