An American air carrier United Airlines is following multiple air carriers’ steps, which have already implemented the requirement of mandatory staff vaccination against the COVID-19 virus. 

The Chicago-based company announced that it will require all newcomer staff members to prove they have already been fully vaccinated. The new rule will be applicable to new employees who receive job offers after June 15, 2021, but not the already employed staff, according to the airline’s memo.

As proof of vaccination, the airline will require the new staff to provide their COVID-19 vaccine cards. 

“As we welcome new employees to the company, it’s important we instill in them United’s strong commitment to safety. As part of this commitment, effective for all job offers made after June 15, 2021, we will require any external candidates for U.S.-based jobs to attest that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19,“ the memo reads.

Meanwhile, those candidates who are unable to get vaccinated due to medical or other reasons, “will have access to a reasonable accommodation process to evaluate their circumstances,“ the company stated.

The news about the mandatory vaccination for United Airlines staff comes months after Chief Executive Officer Scott Kirby first hinted at the idea publically. Speaking to local media in January 2021, Kirby said that “the right thing” to do for United Airlines as well as other air carriers to fight the pandemic was to “require the vaccines” and “to make them mandatory”.

United Airlines is joining its competitor Delta Air Lines which also requires new staff to get vaccinated. Delta Air Lines initiated the requirement in March 2021, when more than 60% of their current staff were already vaccinated, according to CEO Ed Bastian.

Meanwhile, another United Airlines competitor American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) has also started encouraging its employees to get the vaccine by offering them an extra vacation day in 2022 and a $50 gift card. However, in May 2021, the airline revealed it had no plans of making vaccination mandatory for its existing employees or new hires. 

In comparison to the requirements of the major airlines in other regions, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has recently become the first major air carrier to vaccinate all of its flight and cabin crew members with at least one dose of the vaccine. The airline did not make the vaccination mandatory but stated that those employees who choose not to get vaccinated would not get health insurance benefits through the airline and would be unable to get entitled to sick leave if they got infected by the virus.

The Israel-based air carrier EL AL as well as Doha-based Qatar Airways have also already vaccinated all their customer-facing staff.