The White House is pushing US airlines to mandate vaccines for their staff and set a deadline for December 8, 2021. According to Reuters, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients spoke to the chief executives of multiple airlines. Such airlines include American Airlines, Delta and Southwest.
An anonymous source told Reuters that Zients is working with executives to develop a plan to enforce vaccine requirements ahead of the deadline. Large US airlines are part of federal contracts, recently made privy to new COVID restrictions via an executive order by President Biden. His order mandates that all federal contractors require vaccines for their employees ahead of December 8, 2021.
American Airlines announced Friday that over 100,000 of its employees would need to be vaccinated but did not specify a deadline and allow medical and religious exemptions.
"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," said Chief Executive Doug Parker and President Robert Isom in a memo.
"We realize this federal mandate may be difficult, but it is what is required of our company, and we will comply."
Other sources note the airlines are asking the US government to push back the date, as it may be untenable to meet the deadline during the busy holiday season. Zients nonetheless urged the airlines "to act sooner than later to ensure as smooth of an implementation process as possible."