American Airlines Pushes Vaccination Deadline To 2022 After Biden Shifts Deadline

Pilots talk while looking at the tail of an American Airlines plane at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Mike Stone | Reuters

American Airlines is postponing regulations requiring all personnel to be vaccinated against Covid-19 until January 4, hours after the Biden administration pushed back the deadline for federal contractors to meet the requirements.

In the past, more than 100,000 core American Airlines employees had to receive their last Covid vaccine by November 24 if they were double-vaccinated in order to receive a full vaccination by December 8, the old deadline.

“Given this development, all US team members and Latin American crew members must submit proof of vaccination or a request for placement by January 4, 2022,” CEO Doug Parker and American President Robert Isom wrote in a memo. … The airline is also extending its offer for an extra day of vacation and $ 50 in benefits until January 4th.

Southwest Airlines and other carriers are likely to follow suit.

Both of these airlines have faced resistance from the pilots’ unions and some other employees opposing the mandate. Airline executives urged staff to apply for a vaccination exemption to meet the vaccination deadline that was previously the day before Thanksgiving. Executives said they did not expect the mandate to affect vacation travel, but the new deadline gives them more time to fulfill.

The union representing American Airlines pilots wrote in September to Biden administration officials and lawmakers warning that a 60-day implementation period could lead to labor shortages and flight disruptions. The union was also looking for alternatives to the mandate, such as regular testing for Covid. “We are pleased to see that we have more time to deal with this highly significant order,” said Allied Pilots Association spokesman and American Airlines Captain Dennis Thayer after the extension of the deadline for the federal contractor was announced. He said the union is still demanding that management “seriously consider” alternatives to regular testing under OSHA regulations.

American, Southwest, Alaska Airlines, and JetBlue Airways are federal contractors that carry US mail, government officials, cargo, and other services. Each of these airlines said they would abide by Biden administration rules issued in September, which require federal contractors to ensure that their employees are vaccinated or receive an exemption.

The rules are stricter than the vaccine requirements that the Biden administration published Thursday for non-contractor companies with more than 100 employees that allow employees to be regularly tested in lieu of being vaccinated.

In the summer, United Airlines issued its own directive that employees must be vaccinated, be exempted or fired. The Chicago-based airline says more than 96% of its U.S. employees are vaccinated.

Delta Air Lines reports that about 90% of its employees in the United States are vaccinated. The company did not issue a mandate, but this month began charging unvaccinated employees an additional $ 200 a month for the company’s health coverage.

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