The policy has been put in place by Delta Airlines as the average hospital stay of an employee, who has been infected with the virus, can cost up to $40,000 to the airline. Ed Bastian, the CEO of the company said in a statement that all employees who had been admitted to the hospital due to COVID-19 were not fully vaccinated against the disease.
The airline also announced additional norms for unvaccinated employees. These included a mask mandate for indoor settings and weekly tests for COVID-19, which will begin in mid-September.
Moreover, the company announced on Wednesday that after September 30, pay protection will not be offered to employees who have not been vaccinated, according to reports from Associated Press.
The $200 charge, which starts on a monthly basis in November, "will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company" Delta Airlines CEO Bastian said in a memo.
United Airlines, which is based out of Illinois' Chicago, has presented harsher terms for unvaccinated employees. The company said that employees who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 27 will face termination.
Bastian said that 75% of Delta employees are vaccinated, up from 72% in mid-July. He said the aggressiveness of the leading strain of the virus “means we need to get many more of our people vaccinated, and as close to 100% as possible", according to reports from Associated Press.
United and Delta already require new hires to be vaccinated. Two smaller carriers, Hawaiian and Frontier, have said they will require either vaccination or regular testing for current employees. Other major US airlines, including American and Southwest, said Wednesday that they are encouraging employees to get vaccinated but have not required it.