Airlines & Airports American Airlines Rich Thomaselli September 28, 2021
The Allied Pilots Association, representing some 14,000 pilots at American Airlines, is warning that an airline vaccine mandate would disrupt holiday travel.
“While it is not yet certain which Executive Order will apply to America’s airlines, it is apparent that we will be subject to a vaccine mandate in either instance,” Allied Pilots Association President Eric Ferguson wrote in a Sept. 24 letter distributed to Congress, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation, among others.
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The letter was first reported by the Washington D.C.-based media outlet Politico.
Ferguson wrote that mandatory vaccinations could cause disruptions across the aviation industry as airlines will be forced to “offer unpaid leaves of absence or, worse, implement mass terminations of unvaccinated pilots.”
The union representing pilots at Southwest Airlines is also asking for exemptions to President Joe Biden’s consideration of such a vaccine mandate.
“SWAPA’s stance is that it is each pilot’s right to choose whether or not to get the vaccine,” the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association said in an email Monday, mirroring direct language from APA’s letter. “We are also concerned that the Executive Order’s anticipated 60-day implementation period for mandatory vaccinations could result in labor shortages and create serious operational problems for Southwest Airlines and its peers.”
The White House and the Centers for Disease Control are considering a vaccine mandate for all airline passengers.
But Ferguson is also concerned about compliance because of documented medical reasons as well as “the potential for career-ending side effects” from the vaccine, citing stringent FAA medical tests pilots must pass in order to maintain their commercial pilot’s license.
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