He’s not optimistic, however, that a national mask requirement will happen.
“We’ve had those discussions with the White House,” he said.
“I feel strongly about it,” Bastian added. “But I’m not sure some of my peers and other airlines feel the same way. So as a practical matter, I’m not sure it’s gonna happen.”
The White House would not comment on the matter.
“I think I can speak for corporate America: We’re all frustrated with the politicization of safeguarding the health and well-being of our employees, as well as our customers,” Bastian said.
He added that most Delta customers have been respectful when asked to wear a face covering. “We ask our customers to wear the mask, not only to safeguard themselves, but just as importantly safeguard others,” Bastian said.
Delta’s Covid-19 policies have been among the industry’s strongest. Delta has said it will keep all middle seats empty on its planes at least through the end of September, parting ways with American Airlines and United, which have said that move does not keep passengers safer.
Bastion said Delta consulted with medical experts at the Mayo Clinic and Emory University in its decision making.
“I think it’s a really important safety feature,” he said. “Distance matters.”
Bastian said Delta is currently losing about $30 million a day, down from $100 million per day a few weeks ago. He added that Delta is facing potential layoffs, “but not nearly the level that United communicated.”
But layoffs aren’t inevitable, he said, because Delta knows there will be political fallout if the company accepts more money from the government and then lays off thousands more.
“That would be something that that airline would have to explain,” Bastian said, “both to the government as well as to its employees and community.”