Delta flight turns around after 2 passengers refuse to wear coronavirus masks

A Delta flight departing from Detroit had to turn around when customers refused to wear face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"On July 23, Flight 1227 from Detroit to Atlanta returned to the gate following two customers who were non-compliant with crew instructions," Delta confirmed to FOX Business. "After a short delay, the aircraft departed to Atlanta."

The incident occurred as airlines are grappling with both reduced passenger numbers and passengers' fears of contracting the virus in close quarters.

Delta Air Lines Airbus A330

An undated file image shows a Delta Air Lines plane in flight. (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Many airlines, including American Airlines and Spirit Airlines, have warned of layoffs as many airline industry employees are retiring early or facing furloughs.

Delta Air Lines has a "real shot" at avoiding layoffs and furloughs, despite the devastating toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on the airline industry, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in July.

"One of the things we said at the beginning of the pandemic was that if we could avoid layoffs, certainly minimize layoffs, that would be a real testament to the strength of the company," Bastian told "Mornings with Maria." "We've got a real shot at doing just that."

More than 17,000 people, or 20 percent of Delta's workforce, agreed to early retirement, Bastian said.

RELATED: United may furlough one-third of its pilots as coronavirus pandemic continues to impact air travel

Airlines cannot lay off employees before Oct. 1, under the terms agreed upon when accepting the aid package from the federal government. Congress approved $25 billion in payroll assistance to airlines in March and seems poised to extend the program.

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