Southwest, American, Delta break with United, won’t mandate vaccine for workers

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Three major airlines — Southwest, American and Delta — have decided against following United Airlines in requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for employees.

The CEOs of all three major airlines have each said that they will not be requiring their employees to get vaccinated, CNN reports.

Last week, United Airlines became the first major airline to issue a vaccine mandate for its employees

“The facts are crystal clear: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated,” United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart told employees in a memo.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said in a memo obtained by CNN that while the company will “continue to strongly encourage” vaccination, it would not be changing its position on vaccine requirements.

“Obviously, I am very concerned about the latest Delta variant, and the effect on the health and Safety of our Employees and our operation, but nothing has changed,” Kelly said in the memo.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in an interview that 75 percent of his airline’s workforce was already vaccinated, appearing to argue that a vaccine mandate was unnecessary. CNN notes that Delta was the first airline to announce that all new hires would have to be vaccinated.

Though not requiring vaccines, American Airlines is incentivizing vaccines for their workers by giving them one extra vacation day in 2022 if they get vaccinated by the end of this month, CNN reports.

“We certainly encourage it everywhere we can, encourage it for our customers and our employees, but we’re not putting mandates in place,” American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said in an interview.

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