Only 300 JetBlue employees indicated intentions to not receive a COVID-19 vaccine or exemption. That’s the number cited in a memo shared with employees earlier today. With the relatively low number, and influx of recent hires, the carrier is confident it can support the planned winter holiday schedule.
The memo, signed by CEO Robin Hayes and President Joanna Geraghty, also suggests that the airline will not immediately move to terminate unvaccinated employees when the deadline hits.
Citing a federal goal of encouraging vaccination without loss of jobs from the mandate, JetBlue says “We do not plan to separate anyone from the company on December 9.”
The note continues, however, “There will come a point where Crewmembers will not be able to work if they have not been vaccinated or are not eligible for an accommodation.” Once the deadline passes JetBlue will coordinate with the small number of unvaccinated and non-exempt employees to determine next steps.
Riding high on his company’s successful implementation of a vaccine mandate, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby suggested publicly that booking holiday travels on airlines with lower vaccination numbers was a risky proposition. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines found themselves on the defensive during earnings calls last week, trying to reassure consumers that holiday schedules would not be impacted by potential staff shortages.
JetBlue also seeks to reassure its team (and presumably the traveling public) that staffing is sufficient to meet the impending demand:
We are confident that we will be able to fly our holiday schedules this season given the small number of Crewmembers who said they will not get vaccinated…
The reported numbers are based on an internal survey and not fully tied to actual vaccination documents delivered. JetBlue acknowledges a “small number” of employees did not respond to the survey. That could increase the number who intend to not get vaccines. It also depends on some crew still getting the vaccines. The memo includes reminders of the deadlines for the three different options available in the United States.
The company expects the accommodation process for these seeking a medical or religious exemption will likely stretch beyond the December 8 deadline. But it also assured Crewmembers that those employees are being properly addressed.
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