Just over one week ago on Monday, October 5th, Southwest Airlines became the latest major U.S. airline to require its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Dallas-based carrier announced that its roughly 54,000 employees must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8 to continue working for the airline. The company said employees with religious, medical, or disability accommodations can seek exemptions, but we all know how that worked out for the health care industry in NY. Personally, I wouldn’t get my hopes up as those in charge of authorizing the exemptions are clearly being guided.
The airline then suddenly canceled 1,124 flights, or 30% of its daily operation this past Sunday, and more than 800 trips on Saturday, according to data from flight-tracking platform flightaware.com. The website also showed over 588 cancellations on Monday blaming the disruptions on air traffic control issues, bad weather, and staffing shortfalls. Other airlines that operate in the region reported far fewer cancellations, leading many to speculate that weather was not the real reason and that the airline is covering up the fact that thousands of Southwest pilots are protesting the vaccine mandate and are now using up the remainder of their vacation time before they are ultimately let go on December 8th.
When Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly was confronted live on national television regarding the cancellations, he denied that flights were canceled due to vaccine mandates and blames “absenteeism” for the shortage.
to be clear: NONE OF THE INFORMATION FROM SOUTHWEST, IT’S PILOT UNION, OR THE FAA INDICATES THAT THIS WEEKEND’S CANCELLATIONS WERE RELATED TO VACCINE MANDATES– The FAA @FAA News
The only problem with this story is that last week, Newsweek.com already reported:
Workers at several airlines, including American Airlines (AA) and Southwest Airlines (SWA), have started protesting their companies’ COVID-19 vaccination mandates for workers.
Both airlines have told workers that they must be vaccinated or else face termination by November 24, before the busy holiday travel season begins. Both airlines allow employees to request religious or medical vaccine exemptions, though it’s unclear how many will be granted.
Hundreds of AA workers and allies protested outside the company’s Fort Worth, Texas headquarters on Thursday. The protesters told The Dallas Morning News that they are skeptical of the vaccines’ effectiveness and their unreported side effects.