Delta Air Lines employee vaccination rate rises to 90% as federal mandate approaches

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Delta Air Lines employee vaccination rate rises to 90% as federal mandate approaches

Gate agents assist travelers at a Delta Air Lines Inc. bag drop counter at the San Diego International Airport (SAN) in San Diego, California, U.S., on Monday, April 27, 2020.

Bing Guan | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Delta Air Lines said Wednesday 90% of its workforce of about 80,000 people have been vaccinated against Covid-19, weeks before the company imposes a $200 monthly insurance surcharge on staff who haven’t gotten shots.

The Atlanta-based airline’s CEO Ed Bastian earlier this month said about 85% of its staff was vaccinated.

The latest tally, disclosed in its quarterly earnings release, comes as airlines are grappling with the Biden administration’s rules that federal contractors’ employees must be vaccinated against Covid, unless they can show a valid religious or medical reason to be exempt.

American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Alaska Airlines, which like Delta are federal contractors because they fly government employees and provide other services, in recent weeks have told staff they will comply with the mandate and that employees need to be vaccinated to continue working there, unless they receive an exemption. That means staff needs to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8.

Delta hasn’t issued such a requirement to staff yet.

United Airlines issued its own company mandate in August, threatening to fire people who weren’t vaccinated by Sept. 27. More than 96% of its U.S. employees are now vaccinated, it said.

On Tuesday, Texas-based carriers American and Southwest said they expected the federal vaccine mandate to supersede an order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott that bars businesses and others from mandating the vaccine for employees

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