In a surprising move, the CEOs of Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and American Airlines have decided they will not require existing employees to get the COVID-19 vaccination.
The CEOs of Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines say they are not requiring unvaccinated employees to receive the shot, breaking with United Airlines’ mandate that workers get vaccinated by October 25 or face getting fired.
In an internal memo obtained by CNN, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said the airline will “continue to strongly encourage” that workers get vaccinated, but the airline’s stance has not shifted.
“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.
United, on the other hand, issued its own mandate requiring all 67,000 of its U.S. employees to become vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 25, or face termination. Frontier and Hawaiian Airlines have followed in the footsteps of United, mandating all employees receive the vaccine or lose their jobs.
Both Southwest and Delta rushed to reassure its employees that it had no plans of changing its policy, even after the United decision.
The New York Daily News reported,
In a memo, Southwest made it clear to employees that its stance has not changed despite United’s decision, according to CNN. American also will not be changing its vaccine requirements.
The Delta CEO went on “Good Day New York” with the news that 75 percent of its workforce had already been vaccinated, even without a company-wide mandate.
New employees for Delta and United will be required to obtain the COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment. American and Southwest Airlines have not made any new employment changes.
In a statement, American Airlines said there was “no update at this time” to its vaccination policy. “We are strongly encouraging our team members to get vaccinated, and we are offering an incentive for those who do.”