The company told a Trump-appointed federal judge last week that the leave is costing approximately $1.4 million every two weeks, per a report from Bloomberg. Put another way, that’s nearly $3 million per month. Vaccinated pilots, meanwhile, are understandably taking the position of refusing to “risk their safety” by flying with unvaccinated pilots.
United is not expected to recover those millions even if a victory is achieved in a lawsuit focused on the company’s vaccine mandate. On Monday, the Trump-appointed judge in question—U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman—extended a temporary restraining order that prevents the company from placing unvaccinated employees “with a religious or medical objection” on unpaid leave. That order will now hold until Nov. 8.
Reached for comment on Tuesday, a rep for United pointed Complex to the same filings cited in the Bloomberg report.
In August, the company shared an update addressed to the “United team” in which vaccines were accurately described as the “most effective way” to protect people from COVID-19. The move, as was widely reported at the time, made United the first U.S. carrier to require COVID-19 vaccines for its employees.
In a joint statement shared alongside the mandate announcement, CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart pointed to the “dozens” of condolences they had sent to family members of United workers who had died due to COVID-19, adding that they are “determined” to do everything in their power to prevent more letters in the future.
“We know some of you will disagree with this decision to require the vaccine for all United employees,” the two said at the time. “But, we have no greater responsibility to you and your colleagues than to ensure your safety when you’re at work, and the facts are crystal clear: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated.”
Whether you’re a pilot or not, getting vaccinated is indeed the move. We’ll remind you again that it’s safe, effective, and readily available. Making an appointment takes just a few seconds and can be done via this site.