United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby has once again spoken out regarding mandatory vaccination. This time, Kirby confirmed that he does not believe vaccines will be mandatory for domestic travel within the US. The comment came one day after Kirby met with President Biden to discuss mandatory vaccinations.
On Wednesday, Kirby and several other CEOs met with President Biden to discuss company policies requiring mandatory vaccination. Last week United confirmed that all 67,000 US-based employees would need to get vaccinated in the next few weeks.
Having met with the President yesterday, Kirby spoke to CNN and confirmed that although United employees will need to have the vaccine, its passengers may not. As reported by WSVN.com, Kirby commented that mandatory vaccination for air travel is a “government question, but I suspect that it won’t happen domestically.”
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Vaccines across all sectors
Although Kirby stated that mandatory vaccination is a government issue, he also claimed that if other employers across the country mandated vaccines, the US could see vaccination rates as high as 90%. United initially stated that only employees operating flights to high-risk areas would need the vaccine. However, that was updated to include all employees. United Airlines’ staff have until October 25th to get the vaccine or risk losing their jobs.
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian has also said that domestic flights will likely not require a vaccine for travelers. Delta has also not made vaccination mandatory for all staff. Although, the airline is only employing new staff members who are vaccinated.
Kirby’s comments have come just as the US is experiencing a fresh surge of COVID-19. US airlines are in a strong position compared to others as the US is the largest domestic market globally. However, in recent days, several airlines have said that the rise in cases has led to a slump in bookings that could hinder recovery.
For United, the rise in cases and no mandate on vaccines for domestic passengers means it may need to change some operations. Last month the airline operated 3,432 domestic widebody flights. However, it’s unlikely this will continue if cases rise and passenger numbers drop.
Despite current complications, the airline will ramp up domestic operations. It has a capacity increase of around 6% over the coming years. The airline’s hubs are a vital part of domestic connectivity, so the airline plans to boost staff numbers in hubs to support growth.
If vaccines aren’t enforced for domestic travel, an outbreak of the virus in a city or area could impact any US airline’s domestic operations. US airlines will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on the government’s decision regarding enforced vaccination for domestic travel.
It seems more likely that airlines will require negative tests for domestic operations instead of vaccination. This could mean more airport testing centers as testing before flying becomes the new normal.
What do you think about vaccines for domestic operations? Let us know what you think in the comments.