Employees at American Airlines learned Friday they will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to keep their jobs because of President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate for federal contractors.
In a letter sent Friday, the company told employees that the vaccine mandate for federal contractors will apply to them because of agreements with the government and "all of American's U.S.-based team members and certain international crew members [must] be vaccinated, without the provision of a regular testing alternative," the Dallas News reports.
"While we are still working through the details of the federal requirements, it is clear that team members who choose to remain unvaccinated will not be able to work at American Airlines," wrote American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and president Robert Isom.
The company was one of several airlines that participated in a call with the White House on Friday on COVID-19 vaccines. Reuters first reported that Biden's COVID-19 team spoke with the chief executives of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Southwest Airlines on Thursday to convince them to coordinate a plan to enforce the vaccine mandate by Dec. 8 — the deadline by which federal contractors must mandate vaccination without an option for regular testing.
American Airlines indicated that more than 100,000 U.S.-based employees will need to be vaccinated to keep their jobs.
The company said that any employee who cannot be vaccinated because of disability or religious conviction may "request an accommodation."
Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways issued similar statements to their employees on Friday.
Last month, Biden created a sweeping and controversial federal vaccine mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees via executive order. Private companies will be forced to show their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergoing regular testing for the virus or else face as much as $14,500 in fines for each unvaccinated employee.
Biden's executive order also included new stricter requirements for federal contractors, removing the option for regular testing. According to CNBC News, major airlines are classified as federal contractors "because they transport government employees and provide other services like the emergency flights that helped bring Afghanistan evacuees to the U.S. this summer."
"We have consistently advocated that all American Airlines team members — and all eligible individuals around the world — should get vaccinated, and we appreciate the tens of thousands of team members who did so during our incentive program," American Airlines said in it's notice. "For those colleagues who did not, we realize this federal mandate may be difficult, but it is what is required of our company, and we will comply."