Delta Airlines CEO explains stance on not mandating vaccines for employees


With the holiday travel season approaching, more airlines are beginning to buckle down on vaccine requirements.

Monday, Southwest Airlines announced it will require all of its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 8th. Southwest joins American Airlines, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines who rolled out similar requirements in the last week. United required it over the summer. Right now, Delta is the only major airline not requiring employee vaccination.

“I have a lot of high-risk people in my family so everyone being vaccinated, I enjoy that. It makes me feel safer,” said Olivia Piper who says Delta is her airline of choice.

“I would appreciate them being vaccinated considering that’s the one that I take and I know a lot of people take that,” she said.

In a statement, a Delta spokesperson wrote, “Delta’s own approach to encourage a high rate of employee vaccinations continues to work, with an 85% workforce vaccination rate and climbing daily.

While we continue to examine the Administration’s executive order, Delta people who remain unvaccinated can continue their careers while undergoing mandatory masking, weekly testing and—beginning in November—assessment of a $200 healthcare surcharge.”

“When we announced that it’s having the same effect candidly as a mandate,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian told CNN. “Knowing that we have a lot of employees that have been here for many years, some that have very deep-seeded feelings and concerns about the vaccine. I wanted to respect that. But there’s a cost to it.”

He says after announcing the monthly healthcare surcharge, more employees started getting vaccinated.

“I think we will be well over 90% by the end of this month,” Bastian said.

This mandates comes in response to The Biden administration saying last month that staff of federal contractors must be vaccinated unless they are granted a religious or medical exemption.

Some passengers tell CBS46 they don’t agree.

“My personal opinion is they should not make anybody put anything in their body; that choice should be up to them,” Delta passenger Brian Morrison said.

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