Frontier, United Airlines to mandate vaccines for employees

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A Frontier Airlines jetliner waits for a United Airlines jetliner to pass on a taxiway outside the terminal of Denver International Airport early Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Frontier and United Airlines will require U.S.-based employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 this fall. Both airlines announced the decision Friday, joining a growing number of big corporations that will require vaccinations.

“As we continue to watch the rapid increase of new COVID-19 cases across the United States caused by the Delta variant, I am concerned for the well-being of our team members, their families and friends,” Frontier president and CEO Barry Biffle said in a statement. “We need to take every step possible for us to keep our teams safe, protect the operation and protect our passengers. The time has come to do what we can to help put an end to COVID-19.”

Denver-based Frontier will mandate that all employees be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1, 2021. United told U.S. employees they will need to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 25 or five weeks after the Food and Drug Administration grants full approval to any one vaccine — whichever date comes first.

Frontier said employees that choose not to or are unable to get vaccinated will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test on a regular basis.

“We know some of you will disagree with this decision to require the vaccine for all United employees,” CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart told employees Friday. But, they added, “the facts are crystal clear: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated.”

United, which has 67,000 employees in the United States, was the first major U.S. airline to announce it will require vaccination for workers. The airline has been requiring vaccination of new hires since mid-June. Unvaccinated workers are required to wear face masks at company offices.

The Chicago-based airline estimates that up to 90% of its pilots and close to 80% of its flight attendants are already vaccinated. They get incentives to do so.

“The good news is that the vast majority of our employees have already taken this important step and have gotten vaccinated,” Biffle added. “I hope the step we’re announcing today will further increase the percentage of our workforce that’s fully vaccinated.”

The Air Line Pilots Association said in a note to members that a “small number of pilots” don’t agree with this new policy, but the union believes it is legal. The Association of Flight Attendants encouraged members to get vaccinated and said United’s announcement is not surprising because Kirby has spoken in favor of a mandate for several months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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