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White House pushes U.S. airlines to mandate vaccines for staff by Dec. 8 By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Rows of empty seats of an American Airline flight are seen, as coronavirus illness (COVID-19) disruption continues throughout the worldwide {industry}, throughout a flight between Washington D.C. and Miami, in Washington, U.S., March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Carl

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is urgent main U.S. airlines to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for workers by Dec. 8 – the deadline for federal contractors to achieve this – and is exhibiting no indicators of pushing again the date, 4 sources informed Reuters on Friday.

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients spoke to the chief executives of American Airlines (NASDAQ:), Delta Air Lines (NYSE:) and Southwest Airlines (NYSE:) on Thursday to guarantee they have been working expeditiously to develop and implement vaccine necessities forward of that deadline, the sources stated, talking on situation of anonymity.

Large U.S. airlines have numerous federal contracts. President Joe Biden signed an govt order final month requiring federal contractors to mandate COVID-19 pictures for workers, with the White House final week setting the Dec. 8 deadline for finishing the vaccinations.

American Airlines on Friday night stated greater than 100,000 U.S.-based workers will want to get vaccinated, however didn’t specify a compliance date. It added that workers will probably be in a position to search non secular or well being exemptions to vaccination.

“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,” Chief Executive Doug Parker and President Robert Isom stated in a memo “We realize this federal mandate may be difficult, but it is what is required of our company, and we will comply.”

Some airline officers had requested the White House to push again the necessities, signed by Biden final month, till after the busy vacation journey season.

Zients urged the airlines “to act sooner than later to ensure as smooth of an implementation process as possible,” one supply stated, and made clear the White House doesn’t intend to chill out the deadline. Zients additionally urged them to take a look at the United Airlines vaccine requirement that was introduced in August.

The three airlines individually confirmed the calls occurred however declined to talk about the specifics. Zients didn’t reply to a request for touch upon the calls, first reported by Reuters.

“Employers should act now to protect their workforce,” Zients informed a press briefing on Friday, with out immediately discussing airlines. “More and more companies are stepping up to make vaccine requirements the standard across all sectors.”

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) is among the many federal contracts for main U.S. carriers. The reserve fleet was activated in August in help of the Pentagon, as airlines helped ferry individuals who have been evacuated from Afghanistan.

Biden’s administration notified carriers on Thursday it can search a modification of CRAF contracts to require vaccinations of airline workers, sources informed Reuters. Other authorities companies are additionally anticipated to search amendments to contracts with airlines.


The Allied Pilots Association, which represents 14,000 pilots who fly for American Airlines, final week stated that “mandatory vaccinations could result in labor shortages and create serious operational problems for American Airlines and its peers.” Some workers of assorted U.S. companies have stop fairly than adjust to vaccine mandates.

Two smaller airlines stated earlier on Friday they’d adjust to the vaccine mandate for federal contractors. JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ:) stated it had “communicated this vaccine requirement to our crew members.”

Alaska Airlines stated it might adjust to the federal contractor vaccine necessities, saying it believes it and different main U.S.  airlines are coated by the chief order.

Alaska Airlines stated it “means all of our employees, including  certain  contractors and vendors, will be required to be fully vaccinated, or be approved for a reasonable accommodation such as medical conditions or religious beliefs that prevent them from being vaccinated.”

It added: (*8*)

The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, which supplies steerage to U.S. companies on contracts and procurement, issued a memorandum on Thursday on incorporating a clause into their solicitations and contracts on vaccines. It is predicted to subject steerage on exemptions on Oct. 8, sources stated.

Separately, the Labor Department will subject an emergency masking greater than 80 million private-sector workers to require both common COVID-19 testing or vaccines. That order is predicted this month

Delta stated on Friday that 84% of its workers are vaccinated and it continues “to evaluate the administration’s plan.” Southwest stated it “continues to strongly encourage employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”

United Airlines stated 99.5% of its U.S.-based workers have been vaccinated, excluding those that have sought an exemption. The provider stated solely 320 U.S.-based staff usually are not in compliance with its vaccination coverage.

United, which in August grew to become the primary U.S. provider to require vaccinations for all home workers, had requested staff to present proof of vaccination by Monday or face termination.

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