American Airlines and Alaska Airlines are ending paid pandemic leave for unvaccinated workers who become ill with COVID-19.
American Airlines, the largest airline in the United States, said Friday that the company will not grant special leave from next month to unvaccinated employees who must be quarantined because of COVID-19.
Unvaccinated workers will have to use their sick leave or sick leave if the illness makes them miss work, the company said.
“Since there is an FDA-approved vaccine, pandemic leave will only be offered to team members who are fully vaccinated and who provide us with their vaccination card,” the carrier said in a memo to staff seen by Reuters.
American Airlines said Friday that the company will not grant special leave to unvaccinated employees who must be quarantined starting next month.
Alaska Airlines said Friday it had stopped special pay for unvaccinated employee absences due to COVID-19 infection or exposure
Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines, said: The New York Times last month that the company would not require passengers or employees to be vaccinated.
Parker said verifying passengers’ vaccination status would be “incredibly cumbersome” for domestic flights and cause delays.
He added that American Airlines is offering an extra day of vacation and a $50 gift card as an incentive for employees to get vaccinated.
“We certainly encourage it where we can, encourage it for our customers and our employees, but we don’t impose any mandates,” Parker said.
Alaska Airlines said Friday it had discontinued special pay for unvaccinated employee absences due to COVID-19 infection or exposure.
The airline has mandated vaccination for all new employees and will pay $200 to employees who provide proof of vaccination.
“During the pandemic, the safety of our employees and guests always comes first and we are doing everything we can to protect our colleagues, guests and loved ones from the effects of the COVID-19 virus,” the company said in a statement. .
“We believe that getting as many people as possible vaccinated is the best way to protect against COVID-19 and we will continue to strongly encourage our employees to get vaccinated.”
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said last month the company would not require passengers or employees to be vaccinated
Alaska Airlines said 75% of the employees of Alaska Airlines and its sister company Horizon Air Industries have shared with the company that they have been vaccinated.
“This is good progress, but there is more work to be done. That is why we are implementing new measures to increase vaccination coverage and improve our multi-layered approach to safety,” the company said.
Alaska Airlines, which also does not require its current employees to be vaccinated, added that it would also implement a new testing protocol for: unvaccinated workers while continuing to maintain mask-wearing and social distancing.
It was not immediately clear what exactly the test protocols would entail.
JetBlue Airlines, the country’s sixth largest airline, also offered as much as a additional 14 days of sick time for each crew member diagnosed with COVID-19.
“We encourage crew members to check their health on a daily basis and have a very clear policy not to come to work if they are sick,” the company’s website reads.
It wasn’t immediately clear how long JetBlue plans to continue with its pandemic exit program, but noted on its website that “the majority of our crew members have received the vaccine.”
A map shows the total number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the United States since the start of the pandemic
A graph shows the number of corona deaths per day since the start of the pandemic
A graph shows the number of corona deaths per day in August and September
A map shows the percentage of the population in each state that has received the COVID-19 vaccine
American Airlines and Alaska Airlines’ moves on Friday come after United Airlines last month became the first U.S. carrier to require vaccinations for all domestic employees.
Frontier and Hawaiian Airlines have since joined United to require employees to be vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines announced last month that unvaccinated workers would be charged an additional $200 monthly fee for their health care plans beginning in November.
Delta has also required all U.S. employees who are not fully vaccinated to undergo COVID testing every week beginning September 12. The company said about 75% of its employees have reported being vaccinated.
“The battle has changed in recent weeks with the emergence of the B.1.617.2 variant — a very aggressive form of the virus,” Delta chief executive Ed Bastian said in a note to employees.
“Our Chief Health Officer, Dr. Henry Ting, describes the variant as a ‘heat-seeking missile’ that is mainly broadcast through the unvaccinated community.’
Ted Christie, the CEO of Spirit Airlines, said: CNBC in July that the company has no plans to require its employees to receive the injection — but has urged employees to get vaccinated amid growing concerns about the Delta strain of the coronavirus.
“The rising number of cases related to the delta variant is of course a concern for everyone,” Christie said on Squawk Box. “The answer to that, we think, is to get your vaccine, get yourself out there and get vaccinated.”