Delta Air Lines announced last week that it has established a company-wide policy on the COVID-19 vaccine for employees. Delta is the first airline to go public with its position on the controversial issue.
Delta CEO Ed Bastion said during a CNN interview last Friday, “Any person joining Delta in the future, we will mandate to get vaccinated before they can sign up with the company.”
While the airline won’t require its 75,000 current employees to comply, about 60 percent have already been vaccinated, and Bastian expects that number to swell to 80 percent.
“I’m not going to mandate and force people if they have some specific reason why they don’t want to get vaccinated,” he said, “but I am going to strongly encourage them and make sure they understand the risk to not getting vaccinated.”
Still, Delta expects that around 17,000 employees (20 percent) will choose not to receive the vaccine. They won’t be terminated, Bastian said, but there could be some unavoidable restrictions to their duties—and opportunities for advancement. For example, unvaccinated employees could be banned from flying on international routes, not because of Delta’s mandate, but because many foreign destination countries require proof of vaccination for visitors, and the airline has no choice but to comply with their rules.
A recent Arizona State University study found that about two-thirds of U.S. companies are likely to ultimately require that their employees must get vaccinated.