Southwest Airlines is the latest airline to enforce President Biden's December 8 deadline for federal contractors to obtain COVID-19 vaccinations.
On October 4, Southwest Airlines announced that it would comply with the government's COVID-19 vaccine deadline for its employees. In the Southwest Airlines media release, Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly said, "Southwest Airlines must join our industry peers in complying with the federal government's COVID-19 vaccination directive." Added, "I encourage all Southwest Employees to meet the federal directive, as quickly as possible, since we value every individual and want to ensure job security for all."
The Dallas-based airlines also stated they had conducted a comprehensive review of President Biden's COVID-19 Action Plan and clarified that since it has contracts with the federal government, it is a government contractor and thus subject to President Biden's order. It stated that Southwest Airlines employees must be vaccinated entirely against COVID-19 before the deadline or be granted ''religious, medical, or disability accommodation'' in order ''to continue employment with the airline.''
Axios Dallas reports that hundreds of thousands of people work in the aviation and healthcare businesses in the local areas. The airlines risk losing valuable contracts if they do not comply with the federal government's requirement to vaccinate all personnel by December 8.
Reuters reports that the sources revealed that on September 30, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients met with the CEOs of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Southwest Airlines to confirm that they were working rapidly to draught and implement vaccine requirements before the deadline.
Few federal contracts have been assigned to major U.S. airlines. Some airline executives had asked for requirements to be postponed until after the holiday travel season.