United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby is advocating for all airlines to adopt a policy that would mandate COVID-19 vaccines for all employees.
“The worst thing that I believe I will ever do in my career is the letters that I have written to the surviving family members of coworkers that we have lost to the coronavirus,” CEO Scott Kirby said at an employee town hall Thursday, a transcript of which was reviewed by CNBC. “And so, for me, because I have confidence in the safety of the vaccine – and I recognize it’s controversial – I think the right thing to do is for United Airlines, and for other companies, to require the vaccines and to make them mandatory.”
As Kirby said, it’s a controversial statement to be sure. Airline employees are considered essential workers and can get the vaccine long before the general public, but there is a large fraction of people – no matter what industry they are in – reluctant to take a vaccine.
“I don’t think United will get away with and can realistically be the only company that requires vaccines and makes them mandatory,” Kirby said. “We need some others. We need some others to show leadership. Particularly in the healthcare industry.”
In the employee memo, Kirby said United is working with government officials and health-care providers to set up vaccine distribution centers at some of its bigger hubs…