Virgin Australia is planning to make vaccines mandatory for customer-facing staff by 15 November and office-based employees by 31 March.
The business said that it would first consult with unions before deciding a final policy.
Virgin Australia chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka said inoculations are the “the only way back to normal freedom of movement” and the “only solution to the situation Australia currently finds itself in”.
“The majority of our team at Virgin Australia are already vaccinated, and we will be listening to our team members to ensure we find the best fit policy for our organisation,” she said.
“We know that some team members have questions and concerns about vaccinations. Through an internal campaign of education with qualified experts, we aim to inform and assure as many of our team members as possible.
“We trust medical experts, their advice and the evidence that shows that vaccines save lives and reduce hospitalisation rates.
“Virgin Australia recognises the critical imperative to get the broader community vaccinated and will launch a competition this week to encourage as many people as we can to roll up their sleeves. We are also supportive of government-led measures to ensure travellers are vaccinated.”
The business said a recent survey of team members found that over 75 per cent of frontline staff had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with another 9 per cent registered.
Earlier this month, Qantas said it would mandate cabin crew, pilots and airport ground workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID from 15 November 2021, while the remaining workforce will have until 31 March 2022 to get the jab.
Qantas noted that there will be exemptions offered to those who are unable to receive the vaccine “for documented medical reasons”, which the airline expects to be a “very rare” instance.
The TWU, however, said Qantas failed to consult with its workers before making the move.
The union said employees are still concerned about the difficulties in accessing a jab or losing pay as a result of taking time off.
Qantas, however, said earlier that 89 per cent of its staff had either been inoculated or were planning to be, and a survey revealed three-quarters of employees supported the decision.
The TWU’s national secretary, Michael Kaine, said the “snap announcement” was completely void of a plan.
“Workers have spoken out about the difficulties they’ve faced accessing the vaccine, but Qantas has refused to listen,” said Kaine. “Qantas’ own survey shows vaccine hesitancy is extremely low, yet Qantas has pushed ahead with another unilateral decision that will heap unnecessary stress onto workers.
“Qantas knows that workers are worried about losing out on pay or shifts that could earn them penalty rates while trying to get vaccinated and recovering from side effects.”