Delta Air Lines CEO rewards workers with free global travel

'I hope these passes will help with your own healing as we move into the future'

Delta Air Lines CEO rewards workers with free global travel

As the global air travel industry recovers from the financial impact of COVID-19, one airline CEO is rewarding employees with free travel to any place in the world where the company continues to fly.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian announced the company is giving all workers two free travel passes to their destination of choice as a way of thanking them for their hard work and dedication. 

“I hope these passes will help with your own healing as we move into the future, whether it’s to connect with family, experience a brand-new part of the world, or embark on an adventure with a loved one,” Bastian wrote in a company memo this week.

A number of Delta employees continued to report to work during the crisis “under conditions that were unimaginable a year ago,” the CEO said. “You still provide the best service and professionalism in the industry.”

Read more: Pandemic pay: More frontliners stand to benefit from $1000 bonus

Thousands of crew members, however, were asked to go on unpaid leave to help the company avoid implementing involuntary furloughs. 

About 20% of the workforce – or an estimated 17,000 employees – also accepted voluntary exit offers and early retirement packages that provided them with cash and healthcare benefits.

Now, with air travel expected to pick up during the holiday season, there is reason to be hopeful.

Some 40,000 Delta employees – who continued to work or took voluntary leave during the crisis – are expected to benefit from the travel passes. The perk does not have any expiry date and may be used for travelling to any destination worldwide.

Delta is known for giving employees generous year-end incentives. For more than six years, the legacy carrier has shared over US$1bn of profit with its employees, HRD reported in January.

Read more: Delta Air Lines rewards staff with hefty cash bonus

Right before the pandemic crippled the airline industry, Delta handed out a total of $1.6bn in profit-sharing bonuses to 90,000 of its full-time and part-time workers, with the exception of officers, directors and general managers who were under a different performance-based incentive scheme.

“Delta would be nothing without our 90,000 people,” Bastian said in a LinkedIn post at the time.

In September, the company also announced it would no longer apply for additional federal loans to stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.

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