Southwest Airlines Co. announced that after "a thorough review of President Biden's COVID Action Plan" the Dallas-based airline will require all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The airline's 56,000 employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or be approved for a religious, medical, or disability accommodation, by Wednesday, Dec. 8.
The airline said this determination was made by Southwest Airlines Legal and Regulatory Teams who made the decision because it is a federal contractor that has multiple formal contracts with military and governmental agencies. The United States Government is the airline's single largest customer, according to the release.
“Southwest Airlines must join our industry peers in complying with the federal government's COVID-19 vaccination directive,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines Chairman and CEO. “I encourage all Southwest Employees to meet the federal directive, as quickly as possible, since we value every individual and want to ensure job security for all.”
Last week American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airways mandated employee vaccinations as well.
"While we are still working through the details of the federal requirements, it is clear that team members who choose to remain unvaccinated will not be able to work at American Airlines," said American Airlines Chief Executive Doug Parker and President Robert Isom. "We realize this federal mandate may be difficult, but it is what is required of our company, and we will comply."