Delta Air Lines bans hundreds of people over refusal to wear masks

Delta Air Lines CEO says the airline has put hundreds of people on a no-fly list over their refusal to follow its face-covering policy.

In a memo sent to employees Wednesday, CEO Ed Bastian says that as of this week, the company has put nearly 700 people on the no-fly list for refusing to comply with the mandatory mask policy.

Bastion called the policy "one of our most important safety tools" - emphasizing the need for the Atlanta-based airline to continue working to keep following essential safety steps.

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"We enforce masks. Masks are mandated. You can’t get on board our plane without a mask. You must keep your mask on while you are on a flight traveling," Bastion told FOX 5's Dana Fowle. "The filtration system on board our plane is the highest quality air you can breathe anywhere. It’s the same filtration system hospitals use in operating rooms. I guarantee you it’s as clean as the air you and I breathe, as we speak."

The CEO also announced that the company plans to return all merit and hourly ground employees to full schedules starting at the beginning of January. Those employees had temporarily reduced hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic since March, a decision that Bastion said "was a significant contributor to our ability to avoid involuntary furloughs."

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"I know this has not been easy for you, and I am incredibly thankful for your patience and understanding during this time. Your sacrifice has made it possible for Delta to save jobs, endure the crisis of 2020 and position us to lead the industry in the recovery," he said.

Bastion previously told Fowle that, despite the pandemic's damage to revenue, the company would continue to block middle seats for increased social distancing. 

"We have blocked the middle aisle. We are the only airline, the only major airline in the world blocking those seats and we will continue to block those seats through the end of March," he said. 

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