Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines is to introduce a full-crew vaccination regime for all its employees in a bid to cut possible diseases.
Flu, measles and a range of other infectious diseases could occur more often on flights if precautions are not taken, it is said.
But the measures, which will include a joint-prevention programme by the airline and state-owned Tohoku University, have been criticised by medical experts.
Singapore’s safety record is seen as the industry benchmark.
It is one of only a handful of airlines, alongside China Eastern and SAS, to have earned a five-star rating for safety and an “exceptional” rating for comfort from the respected Skytrax air-traffic-control rating service.
But Dr Mark Cowen, a board member of the College of Medicine, Surgery and Transplantation, said such measures do not help prevent contagious diseases from spreading.
“Employees may travel on flammable, latex-covered gloves and with carry-on carry-on baggage that may be contaminated by travellers coughing and sneezing into their hands,” he told the BBC.
Image copyright AFP Image caption Singapore Airlines has been awarded a ‘exceptional’ Skytrax rating for comfort and safety
However, Dr Cowen added that most workers would continue to follow safety procedures, which still required, for instance, wearing a mask.
“Nonetheless, this policy – while it might help prevent people getting infectious diseases – will do little to prevent people from getting sick or actually reduce the incidence of these disease,” he said.
“It could also increase the infectious risk of passengers who might get injured or maimed during one of the airline’s many ‘extraordinary adventures’.”
The uniform, the Singapore Airlines said, could also put some passengers at risk, since many had pneumonia-inducing conditions.
Last year, at least 95 people were infected by a virus aboard a flight from Bangkok to Melbourne, Australia.
Dr Seth Seifman, a senior analyst at The Airline Business, said the measures could prove effective.
“Any measures that make employees feel that they are more secure in handling their personal belongings could reduce the spread of infectious diseases by those with predisposed conditions,” he told the BBC.
“But carriers can be accused of overkill if they include compulsion of purchase of (vaccines).
“This will penalise less affected passengers, particularly those from countries that do not have a good track record for vaccinations,” he added.
Singapore has been ranked as the world’s most financially healthy airline by ratings agency, World Bank.