8,000 Delta Employees Test Positive In Last 4 Weeks; Quarterly Results Impacted

Delta Airlines Inc. (DAL) said on Thursday that around 8,000 of its 75,000 employees had tested Covid-19 positive over the last four weeks, thus impacting the company's finances, during a usually peak holiday travel season.

Delta reported a loss for the quarter and forecast another for the next three months of the year because of the fast-spreading omicron variant. The airlines, however, has predicted that travel would be back to normal by late February.

A succession of winter storms and many airline crews getting affected by Omicron infections led to more than 20,000 U.S. flight cancellations during the peak season of Christmas Eve and the first week of January.

Flight cancellations have slowed down in the past few days with Delta Airlines saying that its operation has since stabilized and that only a small percent of its flights were cancelled over the past week because of omicron.

Delta Airlines said in a statement that those employees who had tested positive had no major health issues.

Late last year, Delta had updated its sick leave policy for employees who test positive for Covid-19, giving them five days of pay, outside of sick banks, and an additional two days if they test positive on the fifth day. Earlier, staff got 10 days of paid leave for Covid infections, aside from the regular sick days. That came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines for Covid quarantining, halving its recommendation to five days.

Delta and other airlines had urged the CDC to make the change. The largest U.S. flight attendants union criticized Delta's policy. Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, tweeted last week that Delta "is telling workers across work groups that they should come to work w/ symptoms even if someone in the household tested positive." She also said that positive workers were told to "come to work after 5 days if the fever is below 100.9, even if still testing positive."

Delta has issued a statement defending its policy and saying that it was a per CDC guidance.

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