Alaska Air and JetBlue Airlines Will Require Vaccination for Crew and Employees by December 8, 2021. This follows President Biden's announcement in September 2021 that federal contractors and subcontractors must be vaccinated against COVID-19 and show proof of it by December 8, unless they are granted an exemption. Since most major U.S. airlines act as government contractors, the vaccine mandate applies to them.
Currently, United Airlines is the most vaccinated major U.S. airline, since United Airlines Required U.S. Crew and Employees to Be Vaccinated by September 27, 2021 or face termination (or unpaid leave of absence starting October 2, 2021, for those granted a medical or religious exemption). As of time of writing, more than 99 percent of United Airlines U.S. employees have been vaccinated or applied for an exemption (in which case they will not be in customer-facing roles).
Previously, Alaska Air merely offered a one-time $200 incentive to vaccinated staff. In early September 2021, Alaska Air reported that 75 percent of Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees who have shared vaccination status with the airline were vaccinated, but the airline declined to say what percentage of employees shared their vaccination status, making the 75 percent figure virtually meaningless.
“After careful review of this order, we have determined that Alaska, Horizon and McGee employees…fall under this federal vaccine mandate due to our significant work for the federal government, alongside the other major U.S. airlines,” Andy Schneider, Alaska's SVP of People, wrote in an email to Alaska Airlines staff. Alaska has provided timelines for the available vaccines in order to enable employees to be fully vaccinated by December 8.
Alaska Air is also extending its $200 bonus offer to newly vaccinated employees until December 1; the original deadline was October 15.
JetBlue has also alerted its U.S. employees, including not only crew but also operations and support center staff, that they will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the U.S. government mandate for federal contractors. Previously, JetBlue “strongly encouraged” employees to get the vaccine, but didn't mandate it for any roles.
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