500 Delta Air Lines employees have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the airline’s CEO, Ed Bastian, during today’s shareholder’s call. Unfortunately, 10 of those infected have sadly passed away.
Nobody would’ve expected it half a year ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic has become a defining factor for the international aviation industry. It had seen the industry brought to its knees on a scale never seen before. Unfortunately, there is also a human cost to pandemics, and several airline employees have lost their lives in the US, making up just a fraction of the country’s 117,717 deaths to date.
500 employees infected
So far, around 500 Delta employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since the current pandemic began. Thankfully, this represents just 0.6% of the airline’s 90,000 employees. Commenting on the figure, Bastian said,
“The vast majority have recovered, thankfully. Unfortunately, we have lost 10 employees to the disease. And every one of them breaks my heart.”
It is possible that the number of cases within the company could go up as Delta looks to roll out testing across its workforce. Delta has already begun to test employees in Minneapolis. Working in partnership with both the Mayo Clinic and Quest Diagnostics, the airline intends to test each one of its 90,000 members of staff. Staff will be checked for antibodies and active instances of the virus. Bastian said,
“From getting a good baseline we’ll be able to provide better protection for our people and certainly our customers as we go forth.”
To try and reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections onboard aircraft, Bastian pointed out that Delta is reinventing its definition of clean. Since the start of the current crisis, Delta has created a dedicated team tasked with evaluating and ensuring hygiene standards on aircraft.
The airline’s current focus is on “protecting customer health as well as our own employees’ health.” Delta is capping capacities onboard its aircraft to ensure social distancing until at least October. The airline is also doing what it can to avoid passengers and crew coming into contact with each other. This has included introducing a contactless service onboard, as have many other airlines.
Before every single flight, the aircraft’s interior is being sanitized. The airline is using electrostatic sprays to disinfect the plane, in addition to wiping down all frequently touched surfaces. The airline is also giving customers sanitizing wipes or gel packs, alongside their snack bag.
Finally, the airline has mandated masks. It says that it is a non-negotiable requirement like wearing a seatbelt for take-off. Those who don’t comply risk being placed on the airline’s no-fly list.
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According to Bastain, the efforts seem to be having some effect in terms of crew welfare. The airline has 50,000 members of staff in customer-facing roles. Bastian said that rates of infection amongst this group are 5.5 times lower than the national average.
What do you make of Bastian’s latest comments? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.