Delta is teaming up with CVS to test its airline and airport employees for COVID-19 at major hubs, including Minneapolis, New York, and Atlanta. Through the “Health Return Ready” initiative, a CVS Health clinician will work at the Delta crew lounges to conduct rapid-response testing. The partnership opens up COVID-19 testing to a wider net of employees on a daily basis and allows CVS to expand its health and wellness capabilities outside its brick-and-mortar stores, according to a Gartner report. Delta’s workforce was already required to be tested for COVID-19, with employees able to request at-home tests, but by working with CVS in airports, Delta employees can get access and results more quickly.
The CVS partnership is Delta’s latest health collaboration during the pandemic. As part of the airline’s scrupulous cleaning guidelines, it also partnered with Lysol to disinfect its plane cabins and airport areas. Additional health precautions include mandatory mask wearing in-flight, plane capacity capped at 60%, and plexiglass safety barriers for any points of customer-to-employee interaction. The airline often takes to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to remind customers of its list of precautions. The guidelines are on par with what many other U.S. airlines rolled out at the beginning of the pandemic, including United, which partnered with Clorox for its health practices.
However, while Delta doubled down on its employee testing and regulated safety precautions, a number of airlines began rolling back their COVID-19 restrictions. United, American, and Southwest Airlines have begun rebooking middle seats and halted cleaning of high-touch areas in between flights in an effort to boost sales and minimize turnaround time. The move may not bode well with passengers, as many consumers are still looking for brands to take extra precautions amidst the pandemic. On the other hand, it could help Delta stand out among its aircraft competitors and connect with more safety-conscious travelers.
Working with CVS allows Delta to prioritize its employee’s health and instill confidence in passengers nervous about traveling during the pandemic. The partnership for CVS could take off as a new trend of working with travel companies, in the air and on the roads, to test employees quickly and safely as the pandemic persists.