In August, United Airlines became the first US carrier to announce mandatory vaccination for all its US-based employees. According to United’s vaccine mandate, employees should complete their COVID19 vaccination no later than September 27. The ultimatum was five weeks after the US Food and Drug Administration gave full authorization on the Pfizer COVID19 vaccine.
Was United’s Vaccine Mandate Effective?
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said on Thursday that 90% of their employees had already shown proof of their vaccination. Also, Kirby thinks that the majority of the remaining workers are already vaccinated but haven’t uploaded their documents yet.
Some employees quit over United’s vaccine mandate. However, Kirby mentioned that “In a large company, it’s a handful”. He added that “The ones I’m aware of are in the single-digit number of people”.
Kirby expects that more people might quit over United’s vaccine mandate in the next days. He said that “We’re going to have more by the time it finishes, but it’s going to be a very low number of people”.
Softer Approach By Other Airlines
Other airlines started to only require COVID19 vaccination on new hires. Alaska and Horizon are among those airlines. And to improve the vaccination rate among their employees, these airlines have offered perks such as bonuses. Delta, on the other hand, announced in August that their unvaccinated employees will have to pay an additional $200 every month for health insurance.
On September 9, President Joe Biden announced that businesses with more than 100 employees will have to either mandate vaccination or run weekly testing. However, the Biden administration hasn’t announced when this ruling will be in full effect.
Ex-transport Secretary Ray LaHood also chimed in on President Joe Biden’s approach to airlines and air travelers. For LaHood, the White House should be pushing for a vaccine mandate on air travelers. And if the airlines object to the idea, LaHood suggests that the White House should just do it.