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Southwest Airlines CEO Speaks Against U.S Govt Vaccine Mandate; Flight Disruption Chaos Eases

Southwest Airlines Inc. (LUV) Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly, in an interview to CNBC on Tuesday, said that he was of the opinion that companies should not impose Covid vaccine mandates on their workers. However, the airlines is getting all its employees vaccinated, thus adhering to the federal rules announced by the Joe Biden Government.

Kelly said, "I've never been in favor of corporations imposing that kind of a mandate. 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 the major airlines, have to have a vaccine mandate in place by December 8, so we're working through that."

The airline has to vaccinate 56,000 employees by December 8 for it to function under the federal mandate. This follows announcements from other major airlines like American Airlines, JetBlue Airways that they also plan to vaccinate all their employees by December 8 as per the Biden administration ruling.

The CEO said that the airlines was making all efforts to get employees to get the vaccine shot and said that employees were eligible for religious and medical exemptions.

Kelly's comments come in the backdrop of Southwest Airlines canceling more than 2000 flights during the weekend, citing air traffic disruptions in Florida and bad weather.

From Saturday through Monday, the airlines canceled about 2,200 flights, with more than 1,000 being canceled on Sunday alone.

Following the cancellations, there were rumors that the flight disruptions were due to employees protesting against the mandatory Covid vaccine requirement by reporting in sick or taking sudden leave.

This was denied by the airlines CEO who said on the CNBC interview, "We have some very strong views on that topic, but that's not what was at issue with Southwest over the weekend."

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