Some type of vaccine passport for overseas flights will be required, but not for U.S domestic flights, according to the CEO of the world’s second-biggest airline, Delta.
Ed Bastian says in an interview on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt: ‘I don’t see that happening in the U.S, but I think internationally that’s probably going to be a requirement.’
Bastian also tells Holt that Delta will block middle seats until the end of April and that the company is ‘not ready to make’ a decision on selling them again. But he explained: ‘We’re going to sell it once people continue to gain confidence in travel, we’ll have no choice but to sell and give them the opportunity to sit in the middle seat.’
Some type of vaccine passport for overseas flights will be required, but not for U.S domestic flights, Ed Bastian tells NBC Nightly News
Bastian tells NBC’s Lester Holt that Delta will block middle seats until the end of April and that the company is ‘not ready to make’ a decision on selling them again
On the future of mask mandates, Bastian says: ‘Once the virus is in a contained form, you’re probably going to still see some customers wearing masks.
‘But I hope once we’re confident as a society that we’ve conquered this virus, that we’ll be able to return to life as we knew it and that will include being able to fly safely on planes without having to wear masks.’
Regarding customers feeling nervous about flying again, Bastian tells Holt that airlines offer the safest mode of transportation.
He says: ‘There’s not a safer form of transportation you’ll find than in our airplanes with our [hospital-grade] Hepa filtration systems, enforcement of masks, middle seats being blocked, space aboard.
I hope once we’re confident as a society that we’ve conquered this virus, that we’ll be able to return to life as we knew it and that will include being able to fly safely on planes without having to wear masks
‘Our team’s doing a great job. We’re proud of the work they’ve done and confidence is being restored, but I do appreciate the anxiety, and you see it even with road warriors, as they get back out for the first time into the airports and in the skies.’
On the future of business travel, he says it will come back, but the recovery will lag behind that of leisure travel by a year or two.
He continues: ‘As we move forward, right now we’re not seeing much business travel. We’re down… probably still about 80 per cent, but as we get to the late summer in the fall, and again as vaccinations grow as our country starts to reach herd immunity, hopefully by early this summer, businesses are coming back.
Ed Bastian tells NBC Nightly News: ‘As we move forward, right now we’re not seeing much business travel. We’re down… probably still about 80 per cent’
‘I hear from all our business – big business corporates that they’re ready to go and go see their customers and go meet each other and see their teams. So it’s going to come back. It just may be another year or two behind leisure travel.’
Across the United States, air travel is recovering more quickly from the depths of the pandemic, with longer airport security lines and heavier traffic on airline websites both signs of this.
The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 1.3million people both Friday and Sunday, setting a new high since the coronavirus outbreak devastated travel a year ago.
Airlines say they believe the numbers are heading up, with more people booking flights for spring and summer.
‘Our last three weeks have been the best three weeks since the pandemic hit, and each week has been better than the one prior,’ American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said Monday.
Airline stocks rose across the board and shares of the four biggest U.S. carriers hit their highest prices in more than a year.
However, while the number of people passing through airport checkpoints has topped one million for four straight days and the seven-day rolling average is the highest in the pandemic era, passenger traffic is still down more than 50 per cent in March compared with the same period in 2019.
The Ed Bastian interview airs tonight on NBC Nightly News at 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30pm CT.