Three prominent American airlines – JetBlue, American and Alaska Airlines – have revealed that each of their crew members will need to be vaccinated, becoming the latest in a growing list of US-based airlines that have placed a vaccine mandate upon their staff. The announcements were made last night, with the fact that they have government contracts as the reason behind the new policy.
The new vaccination policies will cover not only crew members on board flights, but the wider organization as well, with Alaska now requiring their staff members to get vaccinated. Here’s a look at these new requirements, why they have been put in place and a look at how much progress airlines with similar policies have made towards mass vaccination.
New Vaccination Requirements – Information For Travelers
The requirement for employees at JetBlue, American and Alaska to get vaccinated hasn’t come from the airlines themselves, but from the government. It follows a government order that requires each of its contractors to be fully vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Due to the fact that each of the airlines provides services such as special flights and cargo hauling for the government, the requirement to be fully vaccinated extends to their employees.
Each of the airlines had its own systems place in order to mitigate the potential spread of Covid-19. Alaska had previously allowed staff to test regularly for the virus instead of getting vaccinated, as well as offering staff incentives to get vaccinated. Now, however, employees at each of the airlines will need to be vaccinated in order to keep their jobs, with an internal memo stating that “employees may no longer opt-in for regular testing and masking in lieu of getting the vaccine.” Alaska and JetBlue have set a deadline of December 8th to make it happen, and Alaska has extended its $200 vaccination incentive until December 1st.
In a letter to staff, American Airlines said:
“While we are still working through the details of the federal requirements, it is clear that team members who choose to remain unvaccinated will not be able to work at American Airlines.” The airline did however make it clear that should any employees have either medical or religious reasons that would prevent them from being able to get fully vaccinated, they could apply for an accommodation.
Other airlines that are also government contractors have yet to make announcements of their intentions to their staff. Delta, who also fit under this bracket, are still evaluating the government order. Delta had previously announced that it would require its staff to be vaccinated or face weekly testing, as well as imposing surcharges on unvaccinated employees; whilst these rules are fine for large employers, they don’t meet the requirements for government contractors.
United Airlines got in on the act early, becoming the first airline to require its staff to be vaccinated at the start of August, and gave employees a deadline of October 25th to be vaccinated. To date, the airline claims that 96% of its employees have been vaccinated, and more than 500 members of staff have lost their job due to their non-compliance.
However, it has not all been plain-sailing for United. The airline has been served a lawsuit by several of its employees over the vaccine mandate, as they have made no accommodations for those who cannot be vaccinated due to medical or religious reasons.
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