Scott Kirby, the chief executive officer, appeared on CNN’s New Day and was asked how their company-wide vaccine-mandate has impacted their staff turnover. In response, he said the number of employees who have left the company due to the mandate was in the “single digits”.
In January, Mr Kirby wrote a memo to all United employees outlining that everyone needed to be vaccinated to continue to work there.
In the note, seen by CNBC, Mr Kirby said that he had “confidence in the safety of the vaccine” and acknowledged it was “controversial” but the “right to do”. He also said that it would show “leadership” in the sector and potentially prompt other airlines to do the same. In May, Delta Air Lines said all new recruits must be vaccinated.
“We’ve had a handful, but you know, in a large company,” Mr Kirby told anchor Brianna Keilar of the staff turnover.
“The ones I’m aware of are in single digits,” he said. “We’re going to have more by the time it finishes, but it’s going to be a very low number that ultimately choose to leave.”
Mr Kirby also said United Airlines staff have until 27 September to become fully vaccinated against Covid. Staff unable to get the vaccine, due to medical reasons, will not be in a customer-facing role.
According to CNN, a memo stated that 20,000 employees had shown their proof of vaccination since the policy came into effect on 6 August.
Mr Kirby did not say if he supported a vaccine mandate for passengers on flights, but that the best method to get more people vaccinated was through employer-led requirements.
He said it “is probably the most efficient way, as opposed to creating friction in airports, friction in subways, friction across the board.”
In light of the Food and Drug Administration giving full approval to the Pfizer-N-BionTech vaccine, President Joe Biden urged all private businesses with more than 100 employees to enforce a vaccine mandate to their workforce last month.
Mr Kirby told New Day: “I think this employer mandate will drive a really big increase.”
Some industries, such as healthcare, had already begun implementing requirements for their workforce to be vaccinated against covid before the FDA granted the Pfizer vaccine approval.
The Independent contacted a United Airlines representative for further comment.
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