CHICAGO—United Airlines chief executive Scott Kirby said Wednesday that the company’s decision to fire employees who defied its vaccine mandate will not affect the carrier’s operations.
In an interview to CNBC, Kirby also said that ticket sales have plummeted, with bookings for lucrative business travel at levels seen in June.
The remarks came a day after the Chicago-based airline said it would initiate the process of sacking 593 employees who failed to comply with its COVID-19 vaccination policy.
In early August, United became the first US carrier to require vaccination for all domestic workers, requiring proof of vaccination by Monday.
The company was planning to put religiously exempt employees on temporary, unpaid personal leave from October 2. However, those plans have been put on hold until October 15 due to a lawsuit challenging the policy.
Six United workers filed a class action in federal court in Texas last week, claiming that workers who had sought exemption from the vaccine mandate were subjected to intense questioning about their medical conditions or religious beliefs, including a Also included was the requirement that they receive letters from the clergy.
United said it has received requests for vaccine exemptions for religious or medical reasons, which account for less than 3 percent of the airline’s 67,000 US workforce.
Excluding those seeking exemptions, United said more than 99 percent of US-based employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Kirby said a vaccinated workforce would allow the airline to meet any operational requirement.
“We have planned and prepared for this so that now we are able to run a strong campaign with confidence,” he said.
Kirby said the airline would follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines in making decisions about mandating COVID-19 vaccine booster shots.
He also said that ticket sales have improved and bookings for trans-Atlantic flights this week have been higher compared to the same period in 2019.
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times