The airline told employees the cost of treating COVID-stricken workers averaged $50,000 per person.
Delta Air Lines will charge an extra $200 per month to insured workers who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the company announced Wednesday.
The nation's second-largest air carrier joins efforts by other large employers to press workers to get innoculated as infections spike because of the deadly Delta variant. The state of California, CNN, United Airlines and Tyson Foods all require its staff to be vaccinated or face possible termination.
Delta stopped short of imposting that demand, but told employees the surcharge was necessary to "address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company," said CEO Ed Bastian in a memo to staff that was released by the airline.
The company's cost for treating a hospitalized COVID patient averaged $50,000, Bastian said.
The $200-a-month extra fee will begin Nov. 1. More than two-thirds of Delta staff are already vaccinated, Bastian said.
A recent spike in infections, pushed by the dangerous Delta variant, has especially impacted the unvaccinated and children. The airline did not use the variant's name, and instead refered to the strain that originated in India by its medical term, B.1.617.2.
Delta also announced it was reinstating mask requirements for all indoor workers who aren't vaccinated and would implement weekly COVID testing beginning Sept. 12.
Airline travel has yet to fully rebound, with passenger trips down 20% from 2019, before the pandemic ground the nation to a halt in March 2020.