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Delta Air Lines Still Hasn’t Decided Whether to Mandate Employee Vaccine Shots

Delta Air Lines Still Hasn’t Decided Whether to Mandate Employee Vaccine Shots

Ed Bastian, chief executive of Delta Air Lines says no decision has yet been made on whether to comply with a federal vaccine mandate for government contractors. Bastian believes there are alternative ways of securing a near 100 per cent vaccination rate amongst workers despite increasing pressure from the White House

Over the weekend, American Airlines fell in line with a demand from the Biden administration to mandate employee vaccination following similar moves from Alaska Airlines and jetBlue on Friday.

“Our goal, clearly, is to get to 100 per cent,” Bastian said during a press conference held on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting in Boston.

But Bastian remains unsure as to whether a mandate is the best way forward. “There are different ways to get there, and we’re going to do it our way,” Bastian said. “If there’s another path and the government mandates it, we’ll continue to consider it.” 

Delta and Southwest remain the two last holdouts amongst large U.S.-based airlines to issue an employee vaccine mandate.

The Atlanta-based carrier initially pursued an incentivization strategy that managed to quickly push Delta’s employee vaccination rate up to 70 per cent within a few short months.

An employee lottery with a total prize fund of more than $1 million further pushed the vaccination rate up to 74 per cent.

But it wasn’t until Delta announced that it would start charging unvaccinated employees a $200 monthly surcharge for healthcare benefits that more strong-willed vaccine-hesitant started to accept the shot.

Within three weeks of introducing the surcharge, Delta’s vaccination rate has hit 84 per cent.

Bastian said on Sunday that he believes the surcharge will push the vaccination up to “well over 90 per cent” by November 1.

United Airlines was the first U.S.-based airline to issue a vaccine mandate and has since achieved a 99.5 per cent vaccination rate amongst non-exempt employees. Only 320 unvaccinated employees face being sacked after United gave workers one last chance to get the shot.

The airline says it achieved such a high vaccination rate by combining its mandate with significant outreach efforts, education and incentivization.

View Comments (2)
  • If only Delta had a successful example – cough (United) cough – to follow then they could stop dithering and have a fully vaccinated airline.

    • You work for an airline? I guess you have been vaccinated. Let people decide for themselves what is good for them. Biden is not the president so anything he says is null and void. Plus it violates our constitutional rights.

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