New York is the latest city to call for a vaccine mandate, following San Francisco and New Jersey. With just weeks left before Christmas, many are wondering how airlines will be impacted by holiday travel across the country.
Recent reports of TSA and airline personnel shortages as a result of impending vaccination requirement deadlines seem to be baseless. The White House and two major US airlines have recently announced that the Biden administration’s immunization edict for federal and federally-contracted personnel would not cause Christmas travel disruptions.
To clarify, government workers must be completely vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 22 unless an authorized exemption is granted, and federal contractor personnel must be fully vaccinated by December 8.
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With the deadlines occurring around the busiest travel times of the year, worries arose that a large number of unvaccinated airline and TSA personnel would create staffing shortages at a time when a large number of Americans are seeking to fly.
“Vaccination rules would not hinder Christmas travel,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters on Wednesday, according to Reuters. “The restrictions for federal personnel and contractors will not interrupt government services that people rely on,” he stated. Agencies have the necessary flexibility to carry out the task without jeopardizing vital operations.”
“The aim here is to get people vaccinated, not to penalize them,” Zients said. As a result, agencies will not dismiss federal workers until they have completed an education and counseling program.”
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said on Thursday that the vaccine problem will have no impact on Christmas travel. “This is not a campaign to push everyone to be vaccinated… “We want our staff to know that if we’re not in perfect compliance on December 9th, no one will lose their job,” he stated. “We’re not going to fire somebody who doesn’t get vaccinated,” he said emphatically.
On a recent earnings conference, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said that the vaccine requirement would not lead any workers to quit the firm. “We don’t believe anybody is going to leave American.” “I don’t believe anybody will want to leave the United States because they refuse to get vaccinated or because they lack a religious or medical exemption,” he added.
A mature guy is being vaccinated. (picture courtesy of iStock/Getty Images) E+/Geber86)
“We don’t foresee any operational impact,” Parker said, adding that American is “highly confident” in its ability to fly its Christmas schedule as planned, even if unvaccinated personnel with granted exemptions must adhere with additional testing criteria.
Because “completely vaccinated” requires 14 days after the last dosage of a vaccine, government personnel, including TSA employees, must have their second dose (or single shot with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) by November 8. Employees of firms that do business with the federal government, on the other hand, will get theirs no later than November 24.
“It will be very hard to have 100% of our respective workforces vaccinated by December 8,” the Cargo Airline Association, a trade organization that includes FedEx, United Parcel Service, and other cargo carriers, wrote to the White House on Monday. By pushing the deadline out to the first half of 2022, association members will be able to satisfy the needs of the e-commerce revolution during the Christmas season.”
FedEx told Reuters yesterday that it is “engaging with the appropriate government entities” on how to execute the vaccine requirements without disrupting delivery during the busy Christmas shopping season.