Using a carrot-and-stick approach, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said that more than 90 percent of the airlines’ staff is vaccinated, and so the company will continue to encourage, but not mandate Covid-19 vaccines.
It’s the only U.S.-based airlines to not require the Covid vaccine in its workforce, and Bastian says it’s a better way to earn the loyalty of employees.
Bastian expects that within a month, the vaccination rate will increase by another 5 percent.
“The reason the mandate was put in by president, I believe, was because they wanted to make sure companies had a plan to get their employees vaccinated,” he told The Claman Countdown on Fox News. “A month before the president came out with the mandate, we had already announced our plan to get all of our people vaccinated. And the good news is the plan is working.”
“By the time we’re done, we’ll be pretty close to fully vaccinated as a company without going through all the divisiveness of a mandate. We’re proving that you can work collaboratively with your people, trusting your people to make the right decisions, respecting their decisions and not forcing them over the loss of their jobs.”– Ed Bastian, Delta Airlines
Bastian said the airlines is allowing medical and religious exemptions. But since September, any employee not fully vaccinated will need to take a Covid test weekly, as long as community case rates are high, and beginning in November, unvaccinated employees in the company’s healthcare plan will be subject to a $200 monthly surcharge because the average hospital stay for Covid-19 has cost the company $50,000 per person.
“This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company. In recent weeks since the rise of the B.1.617.2 variant, all Delta employees who have been hospitalized with COVID were not fully vaccinated,” Delta wrote.
Also, as of Sept. 30, Covid pay protection is no longer provided to those who are unvaccinated.
“I can’t give enough thanks to the Delta team, providing a great product for our customers and it’s one of the reasons we were profitable this quarter,” he said.
Earlier in the week, Bastian told a Reuters reporter that a “mandate is only one way to get people vaccinated. It’s a very blunt instrument.”
On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned Covid-19 vaccine mandates by any entity headquartered in the state, including private employers, as he called for an end of the Biden Administration’s bullying tactics, which have caused employees to walk out at a time when it’s hard to find Americans to fill jobs.
Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, which are based in Texas, are mandating the vaccine, as is Alaska Airlines, headquartered in Seattle. United Airlines, based out of Chicago, also has mandated vaccines, and is now fighting in court with six employees who have challenged the mandate.
Delta, based in Atlanta, has decided to respect its employees’ personal health decisions, although it may cost those employees more in their health insurance premiums.
“It’s better if you can work collaboratively with your employees,” Bastian told Reuters. “You can trust your employees to make the right decisions and respect their decisions.”