Southwest, American Airlines Say They Will Defy Texas Gov.’s Order Banning Covid Vaccine Mandates

Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, both based in Texas, said Tuesday that they will continue to require Covid-19 vaccinations for their employees. This is contrary to an order by the Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has banned all vaccine mandates, even for private companies.

Southwest Airlines' chief executive officer Gary Kelly called Covid-19 vaccine mandates... [+] "controversial", but stated that his airline would comply with federal requirements. 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP

The Key Facts

The Southwest CEO Gary Kelly stated to ABC News Tuesday morning that although he does not agree with the imposition of vaccines, his company will comply with President Biden's order. This requires companies to inoculate their employees or risk losing lucrative federal contracts. The controversy surrounding the cancellations of hundreds of Southwest flights over the weekend is overshadowed by reports that the company was involved in internal vaccine protests. Kelly told ABC News early Tuesday that he doesn't agree with mandating vaccines, but his company will comply with President Bidens order. This mandate requires companies to inoculate their employees or risk losing lucrative federal contracts. Forbes reached Abbott's office but did not receive a response immediately.

Important Quote

The President's Executive Order states that federal action is superior to any state law or mandate. A spokesperson for Southwest stated in a Forbes statement that we must comply with the order of the president to continue to be a federal contractor. We will continue to monitor all orders and keep our employees informed about any possible changes to existing policies.

Big Number

172,000 Bloomberg reports that this is the number of people who work together for American and Southwest.

Important Quote

Although she did not go into details about the process, Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, stated at Tuesday's press conference that the federal government will implement her order. Florida and Texas, which have also banned vaccine mandates, were accused by Psaki of prioritizing politics over public health.

Important Background

In the midst of controversy surrounding Southwest Airlines' mass cancellations, Abbott signed an executive directive banning all vaccine mandates. Although Southwest denied any connection, some speculated that disruptions could have been caused by an internal protest against the new vaccine mandate. This requirement was already causing internal opposition. The pilots union asked a court to stop Southwest from implementing it last Friday. Kelly stated Tuesday morning that the traffic management program of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) caused the disruptions.

What to Watch

American and Southwest are resisting the bans, setting up a possible legal battle in Texas. These sweeping bans were implemented by Republican-led states. Many of them have been challenged in court. The state government in Florida has begun to punish anyone who defies its orders. Leon County was one of the first, as requested by Florida Governor. Ron DeSantis administration will pay $3.57million for imposing a vaccination mandate.

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Texas Governor Abbott Bans Covid Vaccine MandatesEven For Private Businesses (Forbes)

Southwest Airlines CEO insists that flight cancellations are not linked to the Covid Vaccine Protest. (Forbes).

American, Southwest Accept the Biden Vaccine Order and Defy Texas (Bloomberg).

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