American Airlines and Southwest Airlines rejected the Texas governor’s refusal, and on Tuesday said it would comply with US President Joe Biden’s executive order demanding that its employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the December 8 deadline.
The Texas-based carriers said the federal mandate rescinded an order issued by Republican Governor Greg Abbott banning mandates for a COVID-19 vaccine by any entity, including private employers.
Southwest said it was “expected to comply with the President’s order to remain committed as a federal contractor.” “It changes nothing” for the company, American said while reviewing Abbott’s executive order.
Both carriers required US-based employees to submit proof of vaccination by November 24.
Biden issued his mandate last month as his administration struggled to control the pandemic that has killed more than 700,000 Americans. Covers all federal contractors.
While proponents of vaccine mandates see them as necessary to pull the country out of the nearly two-year pandemic, critics describe them as unconstitutional and authoritarian.
In his executive order, Abbott said the Biden administration had been “intimidating” several private entities to enforce COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruptions.
In its response, the White House said Tuesday that Abbott’s request is not in line with businesses in the state.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the governor’s decision was motivated by politics, not science.
(Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh in Chicago and Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Howard Guller)