Unvaccinated pilots cost him millions in paid time off, United Airlines tells judge


United Airlines Inc. told a federal judge the company was spending millions of dollars on paid vacation for unvaccinated pilots because their colleagues “refused to risk their safety” by flying with them.

The leave costs United around $ 1.4 million every two weeks – money unlikely to be recovered even if it wins a lawsuit challenging the airline’s vaccine mandate for all U.S. employees United argued in a filing Friday in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas.

US District Judge Mark Pittman was unmoved. On Monday, he extended until November 8 a temporary injunction he imposed earlier this month prohibiting the airline from placing unvaccinated workers on unvaccinated leave with a religious or medical objection to his tenure.

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Pittman, a person appointed by former President Donald Trump, said the TRO will maintain the status quo while it decides to block United’s vaccine mandate for the remainder of the litigation, as plaintiffs have requested.

Without restraining orders, hundreds of workers could be “forced to get vaccinated in violation of their religious beliefs or medical restrictions” or “face indefinite unpaid leave,” Pittman wrote.

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The plaintiffs had argued over the weekend that vaccinated pilots should “not know if they are flying with an unvaccinated pilot” and that “United should inform their pilots – as they do the general public – that the risk to contract Covid-19 on a United Aircraft is almost nil.

United argues the order is unwarranted because the pilots who sued would get “damages and retroactive seniority if they ultimately prevail over the merits.”

While the cost cited in the filing is relatively low for a company the size of United, the airline industry is still grappling with the aftermath of the pandemic that devastated its business in 2020. The company announced a loss of over $ 7 billion last year as air circulation nearly stopped.

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The case is Sambrano v. United Airlines Inc., 21-cv-01074, US District Court, Northern District of Texas (Fort Worth).

Photo: A passenger plane operated by United Airlines Holdings Inc. at Miami International Airport. Bloomberg photo.

Copyright 2021 Bloomberg.

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Aeronautical legislation

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