Delta May Block Unvaccinated Crew From International Flights

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes ever more accessible – especially in the United States – there are fewer reasons to remain unvaccinated. Thus, knowing the efficacy of the vaccine in protecting its employees, Delta Air Lines may require its crew members to be vaccinated before working on international flights.

Delta May Block Unvaccinated Crew From International Flights
Delta is mandating that the airline’s new employees will need to be vaccinated. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

International flights restricted to vaccinated employees

Speaking with the CNN program Quest Means Business, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian told Richard Quest that unvaccinated employees would “probably” not be operating international services. This is due to the fact that destinations and their local authorities will likely require airline crews to be vaccinated if they are to enter the country.

Bastian did not say that this was hard policy but said this would probably be the case. This is understandable as countries have been introducing vaccination requirements as a replacement or supplement to negative test results.

Ensuring that all international crews are vaccinated simplifies the logistics of scheduling crew and matching an employee’s vaccination status to the specific destination they will be flying to.

At this point in time, Bastian boasts that well over 60% of the airline’s employees have already had at least one dose. Indeed, he expects that up to 80% of all workers will eventually be vaccinated.

Delta May Block Unvaccinated Crew From International Flights
Over 60% of Delta’s workforce has had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Delta CEO Ed Bastian. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

In a statement to Simple Flying, a Delta spokesperson said,

“We know that vaccines are the best tool we have to protect one another and bring an end to the pandemic. Delta people have made great progress to achieve herd immunity within our workforce, so to help us maintain that trajectory, we will be requiring all new hires in the U.S. to be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they qualify for an accommodation. This is an important move to protect our workforce and our customers as our business recovers and demand for air travel continues to rise.”

New hires will need to be vaccinated

While there might be a requirement for international crew to be inoculated, Bastian said that there wouldn’t be a full, company-wide vaccination requirement, conceding that some of his airline’s employees may have a “philosophical issue” with getting vaccinated. This is a stance shared by airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss.

However, when it comes to hiring new employees, Bastian says that it will be a requirement.

“Any person joining Delta in the future, a future employee, we’re going to mandate they be vaccinated before they can sign up with the company,” -Ed Bastian, CEO, Delta Air Lines

Delta May Block Unvaccinated Crew From International Flights
Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Since the start of mass vaccinations, Bastian has been a strong proponent of getting the jab. As reported by Simple Flying in early December, Bastian had stated in an interview that he would be strongly encouraging his employees to get vaccinated.

“Airline employees are front line workers and will be given priority as a front line worker to access to the vaccine. Myself, I can’t wait to get vaccinated. And we’re going to strongly encourage all our people to make sure they get that protection, that inoculation from this deadly virus.”

Various airlines around the world have already begun promoting the fact that crew members have been vaccinated.

  • At the start of April, Jazeera Airways boasted that its entire pilot pool had been vaccinated.
  • Around the same time, Qatar Airways claimed to have operated the world’s first fully vaccinated flight.
  • Days later, Emirates operated its own first fully vaccinated flight.

What do you think of a vaccination requirement policy for airline crew? Should all airlines have similar policies for international flights?