How are cancellations affecting air travel?

Morning In America

LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — The recent round of flight cancellations issued by Southwest cost the carrier $75 million, according to recent estimates.

Southwest denies the flight cancellations were because of a massive “sickout’ in protest of Southwest’s coronavirus vaccination policy. The airline announced last month that it would require its employees to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8 to keep their jobs. Workers could ask to skip the shots for medical or religious reasons.

However earlier this week Southwest backtracked, dropping its plan to put unvaccinated staff on unpaid leave if they haven’t received religious or medical exemption.

Southwest issued a statement to NewsNation confirming that if an exemption request had not been approved by the Dec. 8 deadline, employees could continue to work while following COVID-19 guidelines.

If an accommodation has not been reviewed or approved by December 8, the Employee will continue to work, while following all COVID mask and distancing guidelines applicable to their position, until the accommodation has been processed. While we intend to grant all valid requests for medical and/or religious accommodations, in the event a request is not granted, the Company will provide adequate time for an Employee to become fully vaccinated while continuing to work and adhering to safety protocols.

SOUTHWEST

Southwest Airlines pilots sued their airline over the vaccination policy. American Airlines pilots are pondering the same action. Travel analyst Peter Greenberg, however, believes their attitude is, “Go ahead and fire us. If you fire us, there’s no airplane left to fly.”

Unlike some other industries, airlines can’t simply go out and hire more workers. Pilots, flight attendants and others require significant training, and if they quit it’s tough to fill their jobs, especially in today’s tight labor market.

Combine this with the U.S. opening its borders to vaccinated foreign travelers, the holiday travel season beginning and low vaccination rates among TSA workers, and you’ve got the recipe for a “perfect storm” of delays this holiday season.

Greenberg, in an interview with NewsNation’s “Morning in America,” added that with the TSA already being down thousands of workers before the vaccine issue, lines will be much longer than usual to get through security this holiday season, so be sure to arrive at the airport with plenty of extra time.

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