Employees who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 will no longer be charged a $200 premium to enter the company’s healthcare plan.
The price was first announced by the Atlanta-based airline in August as part of a concerted attempt to urge employees to get vaccinated without imposing a vaccine mandate.
The decision to implement the extra, according to CEO Ed Bastian, was taken to help cover the $50,000 average cost of treating employees who were infected with COVID-19 and required hospitalization.
According to Bastian, the vast majority of employees who needed hospital treatment for COVID-19 were unvaccinated.
On Wednesday, an airline representative confirmed that the extra would be eliminated on April 30. The airline did not say how many employees paid the fee, but according to corporate data, about 95 percent of Delta’s workforce has now been vaccinated.
After refusing to implement an employee immunization mandate, Bastian went head to head with the Biden administration.
The stance contrasted with that of American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, which also caved into White House pressure. Delta argued that encouraging and educating staff about vaccinations would be more successful.
Unvaccinated employees were also denied pandemic pay protections, and some unvaccinated employees were required to undergo COVID-19 testing on a regular basis.
Only 75% of Delta’s U.S.-based personnel were vaccinated at the time the airline implemented its healthcare premium.
After becoming the first U.S. airline to implement a vaccine mandate last summer, United Airlines permitted unvaccinated employees to return to work for the first time last month.
After a group of unvaccinated employees filed a lawsuit against the airline, the decision was made.
Both Delta and United Airlines demand all new employees show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.