Delta Air Lines has banned more than 500 people from flying because they refused to comply with the airline’s facial mask requirement in the COVID 19 pandemic.
The unveiling took place in a memo sent to the airline’s employees by Delta CEO Ed Bastian and received from Washington Newsday.
“We have now added a total of almost 550 people to our no-fly list because they refused to comply with Delta’s mask obligation on board,” Bastian wrote in the memo sent out on Thursday. “Fortunately, this number represents only a tiny fraction of our customers overall, the vast majority of whom follow our guidelines and appreciate the steps we take to keep them safe and healthy.
A Delta spokesperson told Washington Newsday that the number “represents actions that go back to the beginning of our mask duty in April.
“Even with significantly lower demand due to the pandemic and our subsequently reduced schedules, we still fly more than 1 million customers in a week,” the spokesperson added.
Bastian’s memo began with the “incredible turnout” in the 2020 elections, but added that “while many celebrated the results, our nation remains divided.
“Nothing is more powerful to create understanding than simple human contact, and it is our job to forge these connections through the power of travel.
Bastian noted that this week brought “a welcome glimmer of light in the darkness” after U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its partner, German company BioNTech, announced that preliminary data indicate that the COVID-19 vaccine they are developing is more than 90 percent effective.
“It is unlikely that our industry will begin a significant recovery without an effective vaccine, so we are closely monitoring these developments,” he wrote.
“Remember that while the development of a vaccine is an important step, its broad distribution will take many months, so we continue to expect 2021 to be a year of ongoing challenges.
Bastian said it is “more important than ever” to remain vigilant and work to combat the spread of the virus, as “all signs point to a challenging winter ahead”, adding that the U.S. has exceeded 10 million COVID 19 cases and infections are rising sharply in Europe and other parts of the world.
He urged staff to “continue to conduct a self-assessment of symptoms every day before starting work and to remember that wearing masks is still essential and necessary.
Bastian added that many people will be flying during the approaching vacation season for the first time since the pandemic began. “Your experience that Delta has witnessed first hand the incredible work you do every day to ensure the safety and health of all people will be remembered long after the pandemic has passed,” he said.
According to Johns Hopkins University, there are 10.4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and more than 240,000 deaths. There have been more than 52 million cases and nearly 1.3 million deaths worldwide.
The chart below, provided by Statista, shows that COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. have reached a record high.