MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle suggested that major airlines could “pay the government back” for the billions of dollars it received in pandemic relief money last year by mandating vaccines for passengers and workers.
“They have to deal with customers, they have to deal with employees,” Ruhle said of the industry at the end of a panel discussion on her show. “They wouldn’t have either one if the government hadn’t given them billions and billions of dollars last year. So maybe they could pay the government back and say, ‘Yes, we’re going to help try to get people vaccinated.’”
Earlier in the discussion, guest Andrew Ross Sorkin, a CNBC host, said the “only way to change the dynamic, especially in places where there is a hesitancy, is to have a requirement.”
Sorkin said if people couldn’t do everyday activities like shopping at Walmart or getting onto an airplane without being vaccinated it would motivate them to get the shot.
“The airlines took an enormous amount of taxpayer money,” he said. “We have all supported them and there has been very little support on the other side I’m sorry to say.”
Masks are still required on flights because of a federal mandate but vaccines are not required for employees or passengers.
Andy Slavitt, a former Biden adviser on the coronavirus, noted that United Airlines faced insurmountable opposition for trying to mandate vaccines for pilots but as of last month, both United and Delta are requiring vaccines for new hires, according to CNBC.
United, Delta, American, and Walmart have also offered incentives like extra pay and time off to new hires who are vaccinated, CNBC reported.