According to an internal memo obtained by CNN, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly reaffirmed the company's stance that it will “strongly encourage” employees to get vaccinated without mandating it.
“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.
Kelly, chairman of industry lobbying group Airlines for America (A4A), previously said in July that the airline would not be advocating for an extension to the federal transportation mask mandate.
“We wouldn't advocate from Southwest's perspective, or the A4A for that matter, extending the mandate,” he said.
On the same day that Southwest made its pronouncement, “Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian told Good Day New York on Tuesday that 75% of its workforce has already been vaccinated even without a companywide mandate,” as reported by CNN.
“I think 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.
Though American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said that the company will not be mandating vaccines, he offered a whole extra day of vacation in 2022 to employees who get vaccinated by the end of the month.
“We certainly encourage it everywhere we can, encourage it for our customers and our employees, but we're not putting mandates in place,” Parker said during a New York Times podcast.
“We are strongly encouraging our team members to get vaccinated, and we are offering an incentive for those who do,” he added.
Last week, United Airlines mandated employees be injected with the coronavirus vaccine by October 25 or face termination, by far the strictest corporate mandate in the United States. United CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart said last Friday:
We know some of you will disagree with this decision to require the vaccine for all United employees. But, we have no greater responsibility to you and your colleagues than to ensure your safety when you're at work, and the facts are crystal clear: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated.
Prior to the United Airlines' mandate, Frontier Airlines told current employees to get the vaccine or else be subjected to regular COVID tests; the vaccine was only mandated for new and future employees.
Earlier in the month, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced that citizens will have to show proof of having received at least one dose of the vaccine in order to participate in indoor activities. “If you want to participate in our society fully, you've got to get vaccinated,” he said. “It's time.”
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