Delta Air Lines does not plan to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for existing staff or passengers because the shots do not currently have full FDA approval. A report in the New York Times on Tuesday, however, claimed the Pfizer / BioNTech shot is set to win full approval by Labor Day weekend. It is currently being administered through an emergency use authorization.
“It’s very difficult for us to come in and mandate a vaccine that isn’t even federally approved yet, the authorization hasn’t been final yet, so stay tuned,” Delta’s chief executive Ed Bastian told CNBC on Tuesday.
“We’re continuing to encourage as much as we can amongst our own people and our customers to get vaccinated. The numbers are picking up,” Bastian continued.
In mid-July, Bastian claimed that 72 per cent of Delta employees were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. On Tuesday that number had risen by just 1 point to 73 per cent of eligible employees.
Despite dismissing a vaccine mandate for domestic air travelers, Delta does require all new employees to have had at least one vaccine dose. United Airlines introduced a similar policy but also stopped short of extending the mandate to existing staffers.
Flight attendants and pilots on some ‘high-risk’ routes must, however, be jabbed in order to win their bid.
A growing list of corporations are introducing vaccine mandates with the likes of Facebook, Google, Saks and Disney telling employees to get vaccinated before showing up for work.
On Tuesday, New York City announced plans to bar entry to unvaccinated residents from gyms, restaurants, cinemas and theatres. Bastian, however, suggested a vaccination mandate isn’t necessary for domestic air travel.
On an international level, Delta is prepared to enforced vaccination requirements. “I expect as those borders continue to open, you’re going to see more and more of those requirements. Here in the U.S., I don’t think it’s necessary,” Bastian said.
In recent weeks, a number of countries including Kuwait and Pakistan have banned the unvaccinated from getting on planes. The European Union permits fully vaccinated Americans to visit the continent, while the UK recently exempted double jabbed Americans from quarantine.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.