Delta Air Lines On Track To Test 100% Of Its Workers For COVID-19

Delta Air Lines employee testing
Credit: Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines is on track to test its entire workforce for COVID-19, as the carrier looks to reassure passengers about the safety of flying during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Atlanta-based Delta reported on Aug. 13 that half its 75,000 total employees have been tested for the illness to date, and confirmed it is “well on its way” toward reaching its goal of testing all employees. The company had 91,000 employees at year end 2019; management estimates around 17,000 employees volunteered to exit over the last several months.

Delta recently rolled out on-site testing in several hub cities where the largest number of employees reside, including Atlanta, Minneapolis and New York. Staff can also take tests at home, with the option to receive self-collection kits by mail upon request. Additionally, the company is offering free tests for COVID-19 antibodies at all its major domestic hubs, as well as more than 2,000 Quest Diagnostic facilities nationwide. 

The testing initiative is part of a health and safety partnership between Delta, Quest and the Mayo Clinic.

Delta chief people officer Joanne Smith said the infection rate recorded so far among customer-facing employees is below the national average, which she said affirms the efficacy of the company’s layered approach to safety.

“While we’re encouraged by our results, we know we can’t afford to let up now,” Smith said. “Health experts agree that a multi-layered approach—one that includes testing, symptom-checking, mask-wearing, environmental cleaning and physical distancing—is the greatest inhibitor to spreading COVID-19 and will play a critical role in keeping our people safe in the weeks and months ahead.”

It is not clear what Delta’s approach to re-testing employees will be. When the program was first announced in June, the company said it would consult with the Mayo Clinic to decide on re-testing options, although it has not provided any update on what those plans will look like. A Delta spokeswoman told Aviation Daily the “goal is to get everyone tested right now before we retest.”

A Delta spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on re-testing plans.

Under its current testing initiative, Delta employees who receive a positive result are required to isolate at home with full pay for at least 10 days. All employees who worked with the infected worker are required to remain out of the workforce for 14 days from the date of exposure, also with full pay. 

Ben Goldstein

Based in Washington, Ben covers Congress, regulatory agencies, the Departments of Justice and Transportation and lobby groups.