Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) said Tuesday it is working with CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) to speed employee COVID-19 testing, the latest step by an airline to try to build consumer confidence and get travelers flying again.
Delta said that CVS clinicians working in airline crew lounges will administer rapid-response nasal-swap tests in hopes of detecting COVID-19 cases among its employees. The test is designed to take less than 15 minutes to detect the virus.
Airlines including Delta have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Delta second-quarter revenue falling 88% year over year. The airlines do not expect a full recovery until 2022 at the earliest, and with consumers expressing safety concerns, it is unlikely we will see any sort of a substantial recovery until there is a COVID-19 vaccine.
The move to partner with CVS is part of Delta's plan to try to increase employee and customer confidence that flying is safe. Delta earlier this year announced partnerships with the Mayo Clinic and Quest Diagnostics to test employees for active virus and antibodies, but said this extra layer of testing should give a better idea of how effective the testing is and hopefully make it safer to fly.
"We intend to use what we learn from this round of testing to make sure our retesting program is one that continues to instill confidence among our people and with consumers about traveling with Delta," Joanne Smith, an executive vice president at the airline, said in a statement.
Delta has tried repeatedly to highlight its safety efforts as a way to differentiate itself. The airline in late July announced it would block middle seats at least through the end of September and require passengers to wear masks through at least Dec. 31, just weeks after some of its major U.S. rivals came under fire from lawmakers for lifting capacity restrictions.
Earlier this spring, Delta redeployed an internal manufacturing unit to make face shields for hospital workers battling the pandemic.