Alaska Airlines and JetBlue are joining United Airlines in requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, just as the Biden administration steps up pressure on major U.S. carriers to mandate the shots.
White House coronavirus adviser Jeffrey Zients talked to the CEOs of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines about vaccine mandates, according to three people familiar with the situation. They spoke Friday on condition of anonymity because the calls were private.
Airlines fall under President Joe Biden’s sweeping order that companies with more than 100 workers force employees to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing for the virus.
They are also government contractors, and so could fall under a Dec. 8 deadline for contractors to enforce vaccination requirements — without the testing option.
Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways said Friday they would require employees to be vaccinated as soon as Dec. 8 because they will be treated as federal contractors.
“This means employees may no longer opt-in for regular testing and masking in lieu of getting the vaccine,” Alaska Airlines said in a memo to employees.
Delta said it was still evaluating Biden’s order. The airline previously said it would require vaccination or weekly testing and impose surcharges on unvaccinated employees.
That would pass the Biden test for large employers but would not meet the stricter rules for federal contractors.
United Airlines took an early stance to require vaccination.
United said Thursday that 320 of its 67,000 U.S. employees face termination for not getting vaccinated or seeking a medical or religious exemption by a deadline earlier this week.
American and Southwest say they are studying Biden’s order. Both are under pressure from their pilots not to require vaccinations but to instead offer options, including testing.
At least two members of Congress — Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia — have proposed requiring passengers on domestic flights to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative test for COVID-19 before they fly.
Anthony Fauci supports that approach for domestic flights. The Biden administration has not ruled out the idea, which the airlines oppose strongly.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.