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Delta CEO hesitant to mandate vaccination for domestic travel

written by Isabella Richards | August 4, 2021

Four engines for long haul – Boeing 747s will continue to serve as key long-haul aircraft for the foreseeable future. (Delta Air Lines)
(Source: Delta Air Lines)

Delta Air Lines’ chief executive said the carrier will still hold back on making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for domestic travel, despite calls for the company to do so.

Ed Bastian, CEO of the Atlanta-based airline, told CNBC on Tuesday that because the vaccine is not yet fully approved, he would not mandate it for passengers.

“It’s very difficult for us to come in and mandate a vaccine that isn’t even federally approved yet, the authorisation hasn’t been final yet, so stay tuned,” Bastian said on Squawk Box.

“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” on vaccinations, he said.

He said that 73 per cent of the carrier’s staff have been jabbed following the spread of the Delta variant.

Two of the three COVID-19 vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna – were cleared for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Association in December.

With the new infections rising, the FDA has accelerated its timetable to fully approve the Pfizer as early as next month.


President Joe Biden said last week he expected a fully approved vaccine by fall, but the FDA’s roadmap expects approval at least before Labor Day, according to The New York Times. 

The government hopes the official approval will increase vaccination rates in America as citizens may have higher trust in it.

A travel surge has hit the US in the last few weeks as trans-Atlantic travel has been restored for vaccinated travellers.

Bastian said its flight capacity was over 90 per cent full over the weekend as more people are “learning how to manage and live” with the virus.

Delta announced in July the company is planning on hiring over 1,000 pilots by next summer to keep up with demand, after making many redundant over the pandemic.

While Delta is still hesitant in making a vaccination mandated for travel, customers have been begging for the change for weeks.

People have taken to Twitter calling for all US airlines to require vaccines for travel as the Delta variant gets worse.

Bastian’s comments sparked customers to tweet Delta needed to do better for the health of its employees and customers.

Other airlines are still slow to make moves on mandates, only changing requirements on employee vaccination status.

Delta and United are requiring proof of vaccination for new hires, while American Airlines is strongly incentivising employees by offering extra time off or additional pay if jabbed.


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