American Airlines ends coronavirus pandemic leave for unvaccinated employees

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American Airlines said it will end company-provided pandemic leave for unvaccinated employees who become infected with COVID-19.

The Texas-based carrier told employees in a memo last week that its "pandemic leave will only be offered to team members who are fully vaccinated and who provide their vaccination card" now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has awarded full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. 

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Starting Oct. 1, any employee who isn't vaccinated and has to miss work due to COVID-19 will need to use earned sick time or medical leave while away. 

"We have heard from many team members that the full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives them additional peace of mind when they were previously hesitant to get vaccinated," the memo read.  

A passenger talks on the phone as American Airlines jets sit parked at their gates at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Va.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh / AP Newsroom)

As a result, American said it had an even bigger "desire to encourage as many of our team members as possible to get vaccinated."   

DELTA AIR LINES WILL IMPOSE $200 SURCHARGE ON UNVACCINATED EMPLOYEES

While the airline isn't mandating the vaccine yet, it is imploring its employees to get inoculated and to submit their vaccine card by Oct. 1 at the very latest. 

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
AALAMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP, INC.19.37-0.39-1.97%
DALDELTA AIR LINES, INC.40.25-0.57-1.40%
ALKALASKA AIR GROUP, INC.57.11-0.73-1.26%

If employees are already vaccinated, they should submit their form "immediately." 

If they submit their proof of vaccine before the Oct. 1 deadline the airline will reward them. The airline said it can no longer offer an extra day of vacation in 2022 as an incentive, but it is offering "U.S.-based team members who submit their vaccination card during this new window an extra day of vacation pay in 2021." 

The airline cautioned that it may change its policy and mandate vaccines for its staff later on "if the virus continues to mutate, cases increase and certain countries we serve require it."  

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American's decision follows a similar move by Alaska Airlines, which announced last week that unvaccinated employees will no longer receive quarantine pay for absences due to COVID-19 exposure or infection. They will also have to participate in a vaccine education program. Alaska is now requiring new hires to be vaccinated. 

Delta Air Lines announced earlier that unvaccinated employees on Delta’s account-based health care plan will get hit with a $200 monthly surcharge starting in November. 

"This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company," Delta CEO Bastian said in a memo to employees last month. 

FOX Business' Lucas Manfredi contributed to this report.

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