Delta Hasn’t Decided on Worker Shots Under U.S. Mandate
(Bloomberg) -- Delta Air Lines Inc. hasn’t decided yet how it will handle a federal mandate for coronavirus vaccinations for workers at certain companies, saying there are “different ways” to make sure 100% of its employees get the shots.
Delta’s delay splits from other U.S. airlines such as American Airlines Group Inc., JetBlue Airways Corp. and Alaska Air Group Inc. that last week told workers the U.S. mandate applies to their companies and that they will be required to get the coronavirus shots. United Airlines Holdings Inc. has said 320 workers face being fired for failing to comply after it mandated the shots by Sept. 27.
“Our goal, clearly, is to get to 100%,” Delta Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian told reporters at a meeting in conjunction with the International Air Transport Association meeting in Boston. “There are different ways to get there, and we’re going to do it our way. If there’s another path and the government mandates it, we’ll continue to consider it.”
The federal mandate applies to some U.S. airlines because they employ more than 100 people and because most of them have contracts for flying with the federal government. About 84% of Delta’s employees have gotten the vaccine and Bastian said he expects the number to be “well over 90%” by Nov. 1.
Bastian reiterated his view that requiring vaccinations for airline passengers within the U.S. would be too disruptive given the number of people who fly weekly. “To try to figure out who’d be exempt, how do you display credentials, who manages it -- there are many more questions than answers,” he said.
A stall in demand growth from delta variant cases bottomed out around the start of September and has continued to grow since then, Bastian said. He reiterated that Delta will report a third-quarter profit but declined to comment on the year’s final three months.
International market share may shift in the future because airlines that received government aid to survive during the pandemic will have advantages over those that had to restructure or take on debt, Bastian said. Delta holds stakes in a number of global partners, including the parents of Korean Air Co. and Virgin Atlantic Airways, Grupo Aeromexico, Latam Airlines Group SA, and Air France-KLM.
Delta is in discussions on a potential alliance with state-owned Italia Trasporto Aereo SpA, Bastian said. The Alitalia successor is set to begin service on Oct. 15, having reached outline deals to buy or lease 59 Airbus jets.
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