Two weeks ago American Airlines promised employees that while they encourage Covid-19 vaccination they would not require it. A week later United Airlines came out and said they would require employees to get vaccinated. And if United goes through with making their employees take a jab, American may feel the need to follow suit.
That’s according to comments offered to employees last week by American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, answering questions at a forum after the carrier’s earnings call.
While American isn’t currently planning to require vaccination, he told employees at the airline’s State Of The Airline meeting,
At this point anyway we’re stopping short of saying it’s a requirement because I don’t think it’s going to need to be a requirement. I think enough people are going to get vaccinated that the disease will be eradicated and we won’t need to make that requirement. But that could change.
And competitive issues could cause us to change that, if other airlines wanted to market themselves as the one where everybody’s vaccinated, those are things we’d have to respond to.
If there’s a chance customers might choose another airline because they can be confident that airline’s employees have been vaccinated against Covid-19, American would be forced to do the same thing in order to stay competitive.
Parker does seem unreasonably optimistic about Covid-19 being eradicated rather than becoming endemic, something we live with that’s hopefully less severe when you get it.
By the time questions like these matter, though – where there’s enough vaccine available that all of an airline’s employees could get a jab if they want one – we’re likely to have suppressed the pandemic to the point that hospitals aren’t overwhelmed and daily new cases have fallen substantially, unless further mutations present even greater new challenges.