American Airlines and Southwest Airlines both say they’ll defy Texas’ new COVID-19 vaccine mandate ban and adhere to the federal mandate from President Biden, Bloomberg reports.
After Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Monday issued a new executive order banning “any entity” from imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, American Airlines said, “We believe the federal vaccine mandate supersedes any conflicting state laws, and this does not change anything for American,” per Bloomberg. Similarly, Southwest said, “We would be expected to comply with the president’s order to remain compliant as a federal contractor.” Both airlines have their headquarters in Texas and are requiring employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Abbott’s new executive order said that “no entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination by any individual, including an employee or consumer.” Biden, meanwhile, is requiring federal contractors to get vaccinated, and Bloomberg notes that American and Southwest both have contracts with the federal government. American will require its workers to get vaccinated by Nov. 24, while Southwest workers have until Dec. 8.
The White House criticized Abbott’s order on Tuesday, with Press Secretary Jen Psaki arguing it’s an example of “putting politics ahead of public health.” Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, meanwhile, said Tuesday on CNBC that he’s against companies mandating vaccines but that Biden’s executive order “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 Dec. 8, so we’re working through that.”