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Holiday and business travel help Delta and all airlines rebound from COVID

Delta Airlines plane
Posted at 3:35 PM, Oct 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-29 15:49:11-04

(WXYZ) — A survey by AAA Michigan found 41% of people plan to travel for the holidays, 30% by air, 46% have started booking, 36% say they will just stay home.

Holiday and business travel are helping the airlines recover from COVID losses. The CEO of Delta airlines, Ed Bastian told the Detroit Economic Club today that business is at 80% now and expected to be at 95% next summer.

“Our phones lines lit up. I apologize. I know many of you have probably been on really long calls waiting to talk to our people and dealing with all that demand. We've got a lot of people we're hiring.”

Bastian says they’ve hired 8,000 new employees since the pandemic and they are required to be vaccinated. However, for existing employees in the total of 75,000, there is no vaccination mandate. They can apply for a medical or religious exemption and if they don’t get that and don’t get the vaccine, they will be charged $200 a month additional for their health care.

“Am I going to force someone to lose a 25, 30, 40 year career because they have some deep-seated concern about the vaccine or if there's some, I have a hard time doing that. I have a hard time. These mandates, unfortunately, are really blunt instruments and have caused a lot of again another round of politicization of what should not be political,” Bastian told the Club.

With business up, so are ticket prices to some demand destinations including Florida during peak travel times in the weeks ahead. We asked the CEO if customers are getting gouged to make up some losses? Bastian replied, “Absolutely not. Ticket prices I can tell you collectively are down from where they were in 2019. And yes, there are some popular markets that there's a lot of demand for that's driving prices up a bit.”