Delta says 90 percent of employees are vaccinated without mandate

Delta says 90 percent of employees are vaccinated without mandate
© Greg Nash

Delta Air Lines on Wednesday said that 90 percent of its workforce is vaccinated against COVID-19, even though it is not requiring employees to get the shot.

The Atlanta-based carrier is the only major airline that is not mandating vaccinations, but it does impose a $200 monthly surcharge on unvaccinated employees and requires them to be tested weekly for COVID-19. 

In an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said he wanted to avoid a mandate that would push unvaccinated workers out of the company.

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“We haven’t done it with a mandate,” Bastian said. “We have done it working collaboratively with our people, trusting our people to make the right decisions for themselves, respecting their decisions, but at the same time avoiding the divisiveness of what the mandate is posing to society.”

Bastian added that he expects Delta’s vaccination rate to rise to 95 percent by early November. 

Other leading carriers, including Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, announced vaccine requirements after the Biden administration said that all government contractors must be vaccinated by Dec. 8. 

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said Tuesday that he is personally “not in favor” of vaccine mandates but acknowledged that the Biden administration rule forced his hand.

The Texas-based airlines said this week that they would stand by the Biden rule in defiance of Texas Gov. Greg AbbottGreg AbbottOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Key CDC panel backs Moderna, J&J boosters GOP senators call on Biden to back down from vaccine mandates DeSantis to call special session of legislature to fight vaccine mandates MORE’s (R) executive order banning all vaccine mandates in the state.

United Airlines, the first airline to impose a vaccine mandate, has vaccinated over 96 percent of its workforce. While the carrier initially said that it would have to lay off around 600 unvaccinated workers, that figure dropped to around 230 — a tiny sliver of United’s workforce — as more employees complied with the rule.