United Airlines Holdings Inc. will allow workers who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 for religious or medical reasons to return at the end of this month, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The move permits staffers with exemptions from the carrier’s vaccination requirement for its U.S. employees to return from unpaid leave or from the non-customer-facing roles they were allowed to apply for as an alternative to their regular jobs, the report said.
United Airlines declined to comment on the matter when contacted by Reuters. A U.S. appeals court ordered a new review of a decision not to block United Airlines from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for workers. Chicago-based United was the first significant air carrier to issue a vaccine requirement. Its Chief Executive Officer Scott Kirby had defended the employee mandate, saying, “we did this for safety. We believe it saved lives.”
Kirby said about 200 of the company’s 67,000 employees refused to get vaccinated and were fired. The WSJ report said that the 200 employees would not be returned, and the newly hired workers would still have to be vaccinated.