Nearly 600 United Airlines employees could be fired for defying its vaccine mandate. The company said this week that 593 workers could be let go if they do not get their vaccines before formal termination meetings begin.
On Wednesday, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby told CNBC the policy affects only a "small percentage" of employees, and it is not expected to impact the airline’s operations.
The company had plans to put employees who received religious exemptions on temporary unpaid personal leave from Oct. 2. Those plans are on hold until Oct. 15 because of a lawsuit challenging the policy.
Outside of those with exemptions, United said more than 99% of its U.S.-based employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
United Airlines was the first U.S. carrier to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all domestic employees. Under these conditions, the airline plans to hire about 25,000 people over the next few years.