Delta ends $200 health insurance surcharge on unvaccinated employees

A Delta Airlines passenger jet approaches to land at LAX during the outbreak of the…

A Delta Airlines passenger jet approaches to land at LAX during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 7, 2021.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Delta Air Lines this month ended its $200 monthly surcharge on unvaccinated employees’ company health insurance, ending a pandemic policy designed to encourage staff to get inoculated against Covid-19.

CEO Ed Bastian announced the policy shift on a Wednesday call discussing the airline’s first-quarter results and outlook.

“We’ve dropped as of this month the additional insurance surcharge given the fact that we really do believe that the pandemic has moved to a seasonal virus,” Bastian said. “Any employees that haven’t been vaccinated will not be paying extra insurance costs going forward.”

Delta announced the policy last August to take effect November 2021. At the time, Bastian said the average hospital stay for an employee with Covid-19 cost Delta $50,000.

More than 95% of Delta’s 75,000-plus employees have been vaccinated, according to the company. It also began requiring all new hires to show proof of vaccination.

United Airlines had the strictest vaccination policy of any U.S. airline, requiring staff to be vaccinated or face termination without an exemption for religious or medical reasons. Employees with an accommodation would be moved off customer service-facing roles, United said.

More than 96% of that airline’s roughly 67,000 U.S. employees were vaccinated.

Last month, United said it would allow unvaccinated workers who received an exemption to return to their regular jobs, citing a drop in Covid cases.