Delta Airlines requests that isolation period for breakthrough infections be cut, calls guidance outdated

'The 10-day isolation for those who are fully vaccinated may significantly impact our workforce,' the Delta CEO wrote

Delta Air Lines sent a letter to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky this week requesting that the quarantine period for fully vaccinated individuals be cut in half, calling the current guidelines outdated. 

"This guidance was developed in 2020 when the pandemic was in a different phase without effective vaccines and treatments," wrote CEO Ed Bastian, along with a medical advisor and chief health advisor from the airline. 

"With the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, the 10-day isolation for those who are fully vaccinated may significantly impact our workforce and operations."

Planes belonging to Delta Air Lines sit idle at Kansas City International Airport on April 03, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The airline proposed a 5-day period for fully vaccinated individuals who test positive for COVID-19, noting that the omicron variant "is 25-50% more contagious, and likely less virulent and associated with more mild disease."

Omicron is rapidly spreading throughout the United States, recently overtaking delta as the dominant strain. The new variant was responsible for about 73.2% of all new cases in the week that ended on Dec. 18, up from just 12.6% the week prior, according to CDC data. 


Bastian also said that 90% of Delta's workforce is fully vaccinated and employees are required to wear masks in airports and on airplanes. 

The CDC did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. 

An employee draws up a syringe with the Pfizer vaccine against the coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease at vaccination bus on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)

Executives of four major airlines appeared before the Senate last week and blamed a rash of recent cancellations on an ongoing labor shortage amid the pandemic. 

Delta Chief Operating Officer John Laughter told senators that the airline has had to end some regularly scheduled flights that serve less populated areas due to a shortage of pilots. 

Passengers reclaim their luggage at the airport in Denver, Colorado, U.S., November 24, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Mohatt/File Photo


Despite the challenges, it has been a busy holiday season for airlines, as 1,979,089 people passed through airport security checkpoints on Tuesday, about double the 992,167 travelers on the same day last year, according to the TSA

The Associated Press contributed to this report.