Busiest airline at Orlando International Airport to require employees to get vaccine

Southwest Airlines will allow exemption for religious reasons and medical reasons

ORLANDO, Fla. – The busiest airline serving the Orlando International Airport will mandate employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Southwest Airlines is requiring employees to be vaccinated by Dec. 8. Employees may also submit a religious or medical exemption.

Southwest Airlines Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly issued a statement on the latest move.

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“Southwest Airlines must join our industry peers in complying with the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccination directive,” Kelly said in a statement. “I encourage all Southwest Employees to meet the federal directive, as quickly as possible, since we value every individual and want to ensure job security for all.”

Noel Kohr landed at MCO on Monday evening. She said she agrees with the vaccine mandate.

“I think that’s a good idea. We have to get vaccines to go to school, to attend different functions,” Kohr said. “I’m hopeful people are going to get vaccinated. You have to get vaccinated for chickenpox and measles, so what’s the difference?”

The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority said Southwest has more domestic passengers than any other airline at the airport.

With the deadline for employee vaccines going into effect about two weeks before Christmas, passenger Kendyl Kirkland said she hopes there won’t be any staffing shortages.

“I’ll definitely keep an eye on that. I live out of state from a lot of my family, so I will be worried a little bit about that. Especially prices are already up during the holidays for travel anyways.”

Several other large airlines have also announced vaccine mandates for employees, including American and Jet Blue.

About the Author:

Troy graduated from California State University Northridge with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication. He has reported on Mexican drug cartel violence on the El Paso/ Juarez border, nuclear testing facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory and severe Winter weather in Michigan.