The CEOs of Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines say they will not require employees to get vaccinated, breaking with United Airlines’ mandate that workers get vaccinated by Oct. 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.
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian told Good Day New York on Tuesday that that 75% of its workforce has already been vaccinated even without a mandate. In May, Delta became the first major carrier to mandate that all new hires be vaccinated.
“I think we're there's some additional steps and measures we can take to get the vaccine rates even higher, but what we're seeing is every day is those numbers continue to grow,” Bastian said.
Both announcements follow a New York Times podcast interview with American Airlines CEO Doug Parker who said the airline is incentivizing workers who get vaccinated by the end of this month with one extra day of vacation in 2022.
“We certainly encourage it everywhere we can, encourage it for our customers and our employees, but we’re not putting mandates in place,” said Parker.