“I’m not in favor of that, never have been.” So said Southwest CEO Gary Kelly, referring to the vaccine mandate imposed by Joe Biden’s administration. Kelly explained that the airline has had to comply with a federally mandated vaccine policy.
Kelly’s statements on CNBC, and picked up by Daily Wire, came in response to Governor Greg Abbott’s new Texas order banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates by employers in the state. Southwest Airlines is a federal contractor and is based in Dallas, Texas.
“I’m not in favor of that, never have been. But the executive order from President Biden mandates that all federal employees and then all federal contractors, which covers all major airlines, have to have a vaccine mandate in place by December 8. So we’re working through that,” the CEO said.
Southwest Airlines this week told its employees to get vaccinated as soon as possible, following the federal directive from Gov. Joe Biden’s administration. For its part, the pilots’ union denounced the firm, alleging that it has taken “unilateral actions”, including the vaccination requirement.
According to Daily Wire, due to the airline’s policy, Southwest had a turbulent weekend that was filled with cancellations, far more than any other major airline. Over the weekend, it canceled more than 1,800 flights and on Monday, service disruptions continued with more than 350 flights canceled.
“Air traffic control issues and disruptive weather have led to a high volume of cancellations over the weekend as we work to recover our operations,” the airline said on its Twitter account last Saturday, when it grounded about 800 flights.
However, Republican Senator Ted Cruz alleged that the cancellations were due to the airline’s recent mandate for vaccinations.
President Joe Biden announced weeks ago that all companies must vaccinate their employees or, failing that, require them to test negative for coronavirus on a weekly basis.
The move was opposed by several states and Republican voices who believe that Americans should decide whether to get the vaccine or not. For example, at least 24 prosecutors decided to prioritize the freedom of decision of each individual, so they have assured that they will “fight” against Biden so that the imposition of vaccines does not directly affect the right to work of those who do not wish to be immunized.
“The federal government cannot impose sweeping vaccine mandates, and this oppressive power grab is unprecedented and illegal,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said in a statement.