United Airlines has said in a court filing that its unvaccinated pilots are costing the airline about $1.4 million every two weeks on unpaid leave. 

The airline explained that its vaccinated pilots "refuse to risk their safety" by flying with unvaccinated colleagues.

United said this in a Texas federal court where the airline is contesting a discriminatory lawsuit brought  by six employees in September 2021 against its vaccine mandate.

The plaintiffs said vaccinated pilots should "not know whether they are flying with an unvaccinated pilot" and that "United should be informing its pilots — as they do the general public — that the risk of contracting Covid-19 on a United airplane is almost zero."

In early October 2021, US District Judge Mark Pittman ruled against United Airlines, temporarily halting its plan to put unvaccinated employees who request a medical or religious exemption on unpaid leave, until October 26, 2021. 

On October 25, 2021, Pittman extended this temporary restraining order (TRO) until November 8, 2021. This means that all employees who requested medical or religious exemption will remain on the company’s payroll. He added that this will be the status quo while a decision is being made whether to block the airline’s vaccine mandate for the remainder of the litigation.

The airline said in a filing that it will unlikely recover the losses it is incurring even if it wins the lawsuit.

The case is Sambrano v. United Airlines Inc., 21-cv-01074, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Fort Worth). 

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