American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) is extending its vaccine mandate for employees to January 4, 2022. The decision comes after the Biden administration set a new date for federal contractors, including major airlines, to comply with vaccination requirements.
The US government initially set a deadline of December 8, 2021 for federal contractors to comply with vaccine regulations. However, business groups pleaded with the White House to delay the rule until after the busy holiday season as they fear the mandate could cause a mass exodus of employees.
Under the new guidelines, federal contractors will now have flexibility to determine how they enforce the vaccination requirements for workers who refuse to be vaccinated.
In a letter to staff dated November 4, 2021 which was seen by local media, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said: “This morning we were informed that the vaccination deadline for employees under the federal mandate for government contractors has been extended to Jan. 4, 2022. Given this development, all U.S.-based team members and Latin America-based crew members have until Jan. 4, 2022 to submit proof of vaccination or a request for an accommodation.”
United Airlines, which has taken the firmest stance on vaccine mandates from the beginning, has already completed its company vaccine requirements.
“We successfully completed our vaccine requirements early, before there was a government directive. I know that some don’t support vaccine requirements, including some of our people and some of you receiving this note. But at United, we did it because we knew it was the right thing to do from a safety perspective, and as an airline, that’s our highest priority,” United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said in a letter addressed to United customers, dated November 4, 2021.
It is expected that other major US airlines will also make their statements about the new vaccine mandate in the coming days.