Delta Air Lines will charge employees who choose not to be vaccinated an extra US$200 ($268) per month for their healthcare plans.
The US-based airline’s CEO Ed Bastian sent a memo to employees informing them of the move on 25 August.
Bastian said 75 per cent of Delta employees are vaccinated so far, and thanked those who had taken the time to get the jab.
“While we are grateful for the progress we’ve made, the most recent virus variants make it clear that more work remains ahead,” he said in the memo.
“Over the past few weeks, the fight has changed with the rise of the B.1.617.2 variant – a very aggressive form of the virus.
“Our chief health officer, Dr Henry Ting, describes the variant as a ‘heat-seeking missile’ that transmits predominantly through the unvaccinated community.”
Bastian refers to the Delta variant of COVID-19 as “the B.1.617.2 variant” throughout the memo, which did not go unnoticed by Twitter users.
How Corona beer felt.
— Randy Luckham, PharmD 🇨🇦 (@horsepharmer) August 25, 2021
From 1 November unvaccinated employees using Delta’s account-based healthcare plan will receive a US$200 ($268) monthly surcharge, which Bastian said was to account for the extra risk incurred.
“The average hospital stay for COVID-19 has cost Delta $50,000 per person,” Delta’s CEO said.
“This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company.”
The airline now requires unvaccinated employees to wear a mask in all indoor “Delta settings”, and said it will introduce mandatory weekly testing for unvaccinated staff from 12 September.
Travel Weekly has reached out to Delta Air Lines for further comment.
Delta joins the swathe of airlines now opting to either offer incentives to get vaccinated or penalise those who choose to avoid the jab. Many have made vaccination mandatory.
United Airlines announced last month that vaccination will be mandatory for all employees by late October, just before Air Canada announced a 30 October deadline for its unvaccinated employees, according to Reuters.
Frontier Airlines employees who are not vaccinated by 1 October will face “regular testing”, according to the Associated Press.
Locally, Qantas announced last month it would make COVID-19 jabs mandatory for all staff, with frontliners needing to have received two doses by 15 November, and all other employees by 31 March.
Virgin Australia is currently in consultation with unions and employees to set the same deadlines for its staff.
Featured image source: iStock/winhorse