Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) began vaccinating its frontliners against the COVID-19 yesterday.
RB Chief Executive Officer Captain Haji Khalidkhan bin Haji Asmakhan and Deputy Chief Pilot Captain Yuri Leeka Hamidoon became among the first to receive the vaccine during an event to mark the start of the vaccination drive for the public at the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS)Hospital in the capital yesterday.
RB plans to get all of its frontliners including pilots, cabin crew and ground services, vaccinated within the next few weeks in line with the Brunei Darussalam Vaccination Strategy. The added protection to RB’s frontline staff will boost theirs and the public’s confidence in travelling with RB and represents a crucial step in increasing operations in an industry heavily impacted by the pandemic.
“Getting vaccinated is vital to keeping our frontliners and our guests safe. With it, we will be able to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 and take a step forward to flying with greater peace of mind,” said Captain Haji Khalidkhan.
“The safety of our people and our guests has always been our main priority and is deeply embedded in our values as the national airline. We are grateful to the Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam for providing us with the vaccines.”
Chief Commercial Officer Martin Aeberli said the vaccinations will help RB’s operations return to pre-pandemic levels earlier than forecasted. “We hope that travel restrictions will soon ease for travellers and lead to a recovery for demand for air travel,” he said.
“Hopefully, RB will be able to rebound faster than the industry estimates and restore connectivity and air linkages for the country,” he added.
The Sultanate has authorised three vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Sinopharm – under emergency use. The national vaccination strategy stipulates that the public will be vaccinated in three phases, with frontliners among the priority groups to be vaccinated in Phase 1.
“I am more than happy to be vaccinated. After all, this is our duty as frontliners of Brunei’s flag carrier as well as our shared responsibility to help protect our community from COVID-19,” said Captain Yuri, who also serves as a Line Captain on RB’s Airbus A320 fleet.