Pilots at American Airlines are lobbying the White House in an effort to get an exemption from President Biden’s vaccine mandates. They fear that if pilots are forced to choose between the vaccine or their jobs, some airlines will “implement the mass termination of unvaccinated pilots”.
In the worst-case scenario presented to the White House, Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation by the Allied Pilots Association, pilots at the Dallas Fort Worth-based carrier claim the very viability of the U.S. aviation industry could be put in jeopardy if a vaccine mandate is imposed.
The union is urging the Biden administration to enshrine an “alternative means of compliance” within any federal vaccine mandate. An alternative means of compliance could be regular COVID-19 testing, alongside wearing a face mask even once face-covering rules are relaxed for the fully vaccinated.
“Throughout the pandemic, APA has closely consulted with infectious disease specialists to guide our decision-making, and we remain committed to finding workable solutions to the challenges our industry continues to face,” a letter from Captain Eric Ferguson, president of APA reads.
“We are concerned that the Executive Order’s anticipated 60-day implementation period for mandatory vaccination could result in labor shortages and create serious operational problems for American Airlines and its peers,” the letter continues.
Ferguson warns that the effects of mass pilot layoffs could coincide with the peak holiday travel period.
“Our nation’s airlines, and the traveling public, cannot afford significant service disruptions due to labor shortages,” the letter cautions.
Central to the union’s argument for a permanent alternative means of compliance is the fact that pilots “are held to unique physical fitness standards” in order to maintain a medical certificate issued by the FAA. If a pilot is considered unfit by an FAA physician, their career could be prematurely finished.
While some pilots are exempt from taking a vaccine due to medical reasons, Ferguson claims some pilots are scared about the potential of “career-ending” side effects from taking a COVID-19 vaccine.
“All of those members are still able to perform their duties as professional pilots. To force those pilots out of their positions, rather than offering viable alternatives will have adverse consequences upon their families and the industry as a whole,” Ferguson’s hard-hitting letter continues.
The union notes that the FAA has “recognized the unique issues” the vaccine can have on pilots because it requires a 48-hour break between a pilot having the shot and then going onto fly a plane. The limitation is in place to deal with well documented mild short term side effects such as flu-like symptoms and tiredness.
American Airlines has urged pilots and other workers to get vaccinated, advocating a voluntary approach with employee incentives offered to anyone who gets a COVID-19 jab. AA chief executive Doug Parker has encouraged workers to get vaccinated before a federal vaccine mandate is imposed so that they can take advantage of the incentives on offer.
A much different approach has been taken by United Airlines which will require all employees to provide proof of full vaccination by September 27. Only a small number of pilots have been granted a medical or religious exemption and all of those must take an indefinite period of unpaid leave.
Pilots and other frontline workers with a vaccine exemption will only be allowed to return to work once United deems that the threat of COVID-19 has sufficiently diminished.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.
“Ferguson claims some pilots are scared about the potential of “career-ending” side effects from taking a COVID-19 vaccine.”
What are Career ending side effects of taking a life saving vaccine that prevents spread of Covid?
Taking the vaccine ensures you continue your chosen Career doesn’t it ?
I think Its perfectly reasonable to expect the staff of an airline to follow the same rules that Passengers need to follow. they are not exempt for getting or spreading covid, therefore need to suck it up and get the Jab !I don’t want an Antivaxxer flying any aircraft I travel on.
Why should they be exempt? Covid can kill anyone right? I think it’s wrong that the government is telling people that they must such a thing. The only thing worse is when only certain people have to follow the rules. That leads to a further abuse of power.
Let them Fxxking go ! We don’t need this crap about what they think is their individual rights.
I saw good, know lots of pilots at regionals who would love the bump up now.
Try stupid things and see what happens
Do not let the door hit them as they leave. Selfish–safety is number one priority. Covid kills
Let em leave. They will not find a better paying job that does not require a vaccine anywhere. The only way we got rid of smallpox, polio, etc. is thru vaccines not stubbornness.
You do realize that smallpox and polio did not have animal reservoirs, right? So we could eradicate those diseases. Flu, RSV, covid, not so much. They will always keep coming back. I guess you also knew the jab doesn’t prevent transmission. Facts are stubborn aren’t they?
Facts are stubborn indeed! You do realise no one is saying the virus will be eradicated! You do realise that the vaccine reduces transmission greatly! You do realise the vaccine makes workplaces and the planet much safer to susceptible people! You do realise it’s not about you! God I hate facts !
I don’t want anyone to lose their job over this but they should. They can be reassigned to cabin cleaning duties.
…some pilots are scared about the potential of “career-ending” side effects from taking a COVID-19 vaccine.
are they not scared about the potential of “career-ending” side effects of being in the hospital for a month on a ventilator? of lingering heart and lung limitations? long-haul brain fogginess? death? that last one seems particularly career-ending.
But they are afraid to feel a little achey and tired for a couple days? Sheesh. grow up. Some of us didn’t even have side effects, and now we know we wont even die of it…. so put on your big-kid pants and take your medicine so we can all go back to our lives.
I know right. You are spot on !
In most cases a Executive order (EO) only deals with the federal government. Now, people think it pertains to them, it isn’t! The blackmail occurs when the government says, if you are subsidized by the government, you need to fall in line. Not necessarily, the leadership of the company needs to decide if they want a workforce or not. With this decision goes the profits. Science doesn’t backup a lot of the stuff going on now. Not to mention the sycophant afraid of the government. It is amazing how many companies folded just to stay in favor of a few.
And they will go where to continue their careers as pilots?
No Where, thats the point I think, They are “choosing” to end their career.
When they started many years ago they would have had to have certain vaccinations to get the job, now they are being picky about this one. Everyone will get the consequence of their decision. It’s a safety based industry and they should understand that they are only a small part of it. Many younger pilots will love to take their place.
What a bunch of angry communist commenters. When the government comes to put the lot of you in concentration camps no one will be left to save your sorry asses. Fuck off and die.
Who’s the angry ant, seems you’re more upset than these folks. Seriously though, you mentioned concentration camps.. that’s so far off the mark and wildly inappropriate it’s not funny. I hope you get some happy pills soon and a good dose of reality in whatever form that needs to be. Ciao Bello ..