- Combined mandatory vaccines for employees this summer.
- Covid infections among employees have increased, forcing the carrier to cut flights.
- There have been zero COVID related deaths among employees in the airline.
United Airlines has not reported a Covid-related death among its nearly 70,000 employees in eight weeks, a trend the CEO says is due to the airline’s vaccine mandate.
United in August issued the strictest vaccine mandate among US carriers: employees must be vaccinated against COVID or face termination. The company said that this fall, more than 96% of its employees were vaccinated.
Like the rest of the country and other airlines, COVID infections among United employees have risen, forcing the carrier to cut additional flights, a move United and other airlines have taken since late last year. About 3,000 United employees are positive for COVID, CEO Scott Kirby told employees late Monday. Zero is hospitalized, he said.
“Before our vaccine requirement, unfortunately, more than one United worker was dying from COVID on average *per week*,” Kirby wrote in a staff note. “But we have now gone eight straight weeks with zero COVID-related deaths among our vaccinated employees – based on United’s prior experience and nationwide data relating to COVID deaths among non-vaccinated employees. Based on that, this means there are about 8-10 combined workers who are alive today because of our need for vaccines.”
Other airlines did not immediately comment. United put its vaccine mandate in place before the Biden administration required federal contractors such as major airlines to mandate vaccines or obtain medical or religious exemptions for employees.