Three major US airlines say they will not force employees to be vaccinated

United Airlines requiring COVID vaccines for all US employees

Global Entrepreneurship Network chairman Jeff Hoffman on whether more airline companies will start requiring vaccinations for employees.

Three major U.S. airlines announced they will not require current employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, bucking a precedent set by United Airlines, which recently said it would require the shot for its employees.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly told employees in a memo obtained by CNN this week that his company is encouraging workers to be vaccinated, but nothing has changed in regard to its policy of not mandating the shot.

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Additionally, Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastion said that he was not considering mandating the vaccine for his employees because 75% of the company’s workforce is vaccinated already and the numbers are growing. Delta did however establish that new hires be vaccinated as of May 17.

"We’re going to continue to encourage it," Bastian said. "I think there’s some additional steps, measures we can take to get the vaccine rates even higher, but what we’re seeing is every day, those numbers continue to grow. I’m really proud of our team."

The two announcements come the week after American Airlines announced it would also refrain from forcing workers to be vaccinated.

"We certainly encourage it everywhere we can, encourage it for our customers and our employees, but we’re not putting mandates in place," Chief Executive Doug Parker said on a New York Times podcast.

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The announcements from the three companies stand in contrast with one of their top competitors, United Airlines, which is forcing employees to be vaccinated by October 25 or risk losing their job.

"We know some of you will disagree with this decision to require the vaccine for all United employees," the company said. "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."

Across the country, cities, businesses, and the federal government are embracing mandatory vaccine requirements in order for individuals to work or visit certain indoor areas like restaurants and gyms.

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