Sanders Argues He Has ‘Narrow Path’ and Says He Wants to Push His Issues

In an interview with Seth Meyers on “Late Night,” Bernie Sanders said that raising consciousness on the issues he cares about is an argument for continuing his campaign.


By Katie Glueck

Senator Bernie Sanders this week offered his clearest articulation to date of his rationale for remaining in the Democratic presidential primary despite Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s commanding delegate lead, arguing that a “narrow path” remains for his candidacy and that it’s important for him to keep pushing his liberal agenda.

“Campaigns are an important way to maintain that fight and raise public consciousness on those issues,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview on NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers” that aired early Tuesday. He ticked through a list of his policy priorities including “Medicare for all,” raising the minimum wage, combating climate change and expanding paid family and medical leave. “So that’s I think one of the arguments for going forward.”

Mr. Sanders, of Vermont, has faced growing calls to exit the race from some Democrats who want to quickly unify the party against President Trump. Mr. Biden himself has generally sought to avoid pressuring Mr. Sanders, aware that he will need support from the senator’s dedicated backers should he become the nominee, though he has also flashed signs of impatience with Mr. Sanders’s hopes to continue debating.

Amid the coronavirus crisis, both men have been forced off the physical campaign trail, and are instead offering virtual outreach. Mr. Sanders spent Monday night conducting a live-streamed town hall focused on the virus, where he lashed Mr. Trump’s stewardship of the crisis and urged the government to do more to help working people who are facing both economic and health challenges.

In the television interview, Mr. Sanders also acknowledged his delegate deficit coming off a month in which Mr. Biden swept many large states, before the coronavirus crisis ground campaigning to a halt, leading a number of states to delay their primary contests.

“We’re about 300 delegates behind; Biden has 1200, we have 900,” Mr. Sanders said. “There is a path. It is admittedly a narrow path. But I would tell you, Seth, that there are a lot of people who are supporting me. We have a strong grass-roots movement who believe that we have got to stay in, in order to continue the fight.”

Mr. Sanders also argued that the outbreak of the coronavirus crystallized the need for his sweeping single-payer health care proposal, “Medicare for all.” He said the crisis highlighted how vulnerable many Americans were without insurance and showed how the current public health system is “so weak, so incredibly weak,” that doctors and nurses don’t have access to basic protective equipment.

“A ‘Medicare for all’ system is designed to provide quality care for all,” he said. “To do preventative work in order to prepare for some types of pandemics, not simply to make huge amounts of money for the insurance companies and the drug companies.”

Source: Read Full Article

Coronavirus Taunts Evoke a Painful History for Asian-American Leaders

As Asian-Americans face xenophobia and President Trump has tied the virus to China, community and political leaders have tried to comfort constituents. But even they admit to feeling unnerved.


By Matt Stevens

Soon after President Trump first uttered the phrase “Chinese virus,” Representative Grace Meng got a call from her parents, who had read about it in the newspaper. Had Mr. Trump, they wondered, really given the coronavirus that corrosive moniker?

Yes, she told them, indeed he had. And no, despite being a member of Congress and her parents’ continued pleas, there was nothing she could do to make him stop.

“I have, at times, felt helpless,” said Ms. Meng, a Democrat from New York whose large and multicultural district encompasses many neighborhoods in Queens, including Flushing. “Hearing stories consistently from around the world where people are being harassed and assaulted really reminds me that often times we are, as a community, still viewed as outsiders.”

After enduring decades of exclusion, racism and discrimination that include some of the darkest chapters of American history, Asian-Americans entered 2020 with reason for optimism on the political front. A wave of second-generation Asian-Americans had come of age, sparking hope that they could help break voter turnout records in the fall. And three people with roots in the diaspora had run for the country’s highest office during the same cycle, with one of them, Andrew Yang, energizing Asian-American voters in a fashion seldom seen before.

And then along came the coronavirus — a pandemic that unleashed a torrent of hate and violence as bigots blamed Asian-Americans for the outbreak. In recent weeks, they have been yelled at, spit on, physically attacked and more, leading at least three organizations to begin tracking the episodes. Hundreds of people have filed reports, the groups say, though an untold number of incidents have most likely gone uncounted as victims have chosen to keep quiet.

In interviews, a dozen Asian-American politicians, academics and leaders of nonprofit groups denounced the racial animus that has shown itself during the crisis, vowing to speak out against it and to protect their community even as they personally acknowledged feeling angry, fearful and unsettled.

“They are doing this because they have certain political motives and they are not taking into account the effect of their actions on other huge groups of people, including Asian-Americans,” Representative Judy Chu, Democrat of California, said of her Republican counterparts in Congress and the White House. “I hope this wakes people up.”

Some of those interviewed expressed cautious hope that the events of the past several weeks might unite the sprawling and diverse Asian-American community in a productive way that could build on the political momentum that has been bubbling in recent years.

But they also spoke of a profound sadness; despite a long struggle for hard-won educational, economic and political gains, the xenophobic attacks and political rhetoric of the last month have served as a reminder that, especially under Mr. Trump, Asian-Americans may never fully be able to shake the feeling that they are perpetual foreigners.

Source: Read Full Article

Coronavirus could take years to run its course, world must brace itself: PM Lee

SINGAPORE – It could take several years for the coronavirus to go around the world and run its course unless something happens to abort that process, says Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, adding that the world will have to brace itself for a long battle ahead.

In an interview on Sunday (March 29) with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria about Singapore’s much-lauded response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Lee said he hesitates to call the Republic a “success story”.

In response to the suggestion that Singapore has contained the virus outbreak, he said: “I hesitate to talk about success because we are right in the midst of a battle,which is intensifying.”

He does not see the pandemic going away in a couple of months and expects it to spread to other parts of the world such as India, Africa, South-east Asia and Latin America.

“By the time it goes around the world, and then finally runs its course, I think that is several years, unless something happens to abort that process.”

Mr Fareed also asked about the role of the United States in the pandemic, noting that President Donald Trump did not seem interested in taking the lead.

To this, Mr Lee said the world has greatly benefited from American leadership in such crises for decades. “If America is in a different mode, well, we will get by and I think other configurations will eventually work out, but it would be a loss.”

America, he added, has the resources, the science, the influence, the soft power, and the track record of dealing with these problems convincingly and successfully. “It is a pity not to put those resources to work now, to deal with this very grave challenge to mankind.”

He also called upon the US and China – which have been pointing fingers at each other for the outbreak – to work together to combat the pandemic.

“It is a most unfortunate situation to be in. I mean, US-China relations have been complicated even before this. But if we are going to deal with this virus, you have got to get all the countries to be working together, in particular, the US and China.

“Under the best of circumstances, it is going to be a very difficult challenge for mankind. But if the US and the Chinese are swopping insults and blaming one another for inventing the virus and letting it loose on the world, I do not think that that is going to help us solve the problem sooner.”

China, where the virus originated, had been criticised for not being sufficiently transparent about the crisis during its early days. Asked whether that had – as some critics charged – exacerbated the situation, Mr Lee said: “I am sure that there were many aspects of the Chinese response to this outbreak which they will look back upon and believe that they should have done better.

“But I do not think overall that one can say this would not have happened if only the Chinese had done the right thing. Because you look at the way the outbreak has continued to grow and spread in many countries, and they do not have the Chinese government and yet they have not found it easy to keep the outbreak under control in their country.

“I think that we are in a very difficult situation and it is most constructive for us now to look ahead and find the best way to move forward and deal with a problem which we now have.”

He said that Singapore took Covid-19 very seriously from the beginning. “We watched what was happening in Wuhan, in China. We prepared our people. In fact, we have been preparing for this since Sars, which was 17 years ago.”

To tackle the virus through herd immunity, a controversial strategy to allow a community be infected and build immunity to the virus, would be very painful, he said, as a large proportion of the population would have to be infected.

The other way is to flatten the curve, and that will take a long time. “You have got to hope for an off ramp to get off that path, and the only visible way to get an off ramp is to have either a treatment or an effective vaccine.

“That is some distance down the road, but many very smart people are working very hard at it. I can only hope and pray that they will make some progress soon.”

Asked if Singapore had been able to contain the virus because of its “paternalistic system”, Mr Lee said that the government had not exercised “extraordinary powers”.

Instead, he said, in the battle against the virus , trust and transparency are key. “We put a lot of effort into explaining to (the public) what is happening, speaking to them and I have done it a few times directly on television, so people know that we are level and we tell it straight.

“We are transparent – if there is bad news, we tell you. If there are things which need to be done, we also tell you. I think that you have to maintain that trust because if people do not trust you, even if you have the right measures, it is going to be very hard to get it implemented.”

He added that the Singapore government has not been using phone data to do contact tracing, but rather “traditional detective work”.

“We have been interviewing people, asking them, interviewing them, tracking down their contacts, interviewing their contacts, trying to piece a story together… We hope to get a quick answer out within a couple of hours, but in fact we have pursued the cases for days to try and pin down, who talked to whom and who might have given the virus to whom.”

He described how Covid-19 has crippled the aviation and tourism industry, disrupted supply chains and upended the gig economy.

It will take quite a while for jobs – which depend on normal socialising – to return.

“I do not see that coming back until such time as people gain confidence that they have a hold on the virus, that we can resume normal socialising, normal travelling, normal human intercourse. I think that is quite some time down the road.”

Asked if the pandemic might lead him to postpone his decision to step down as Prime Minister, Mr Lee demurred: “I think this crisis keeps my hands full. Let us just focus on that for now.”

Source: Read Full Article

Rebecca Long-Bailey says Labour leadership contest to end in ‘bizarre’ way

The shadow business secretary said the move was to “deal with these strange times” following lockdown measures in the UK during the Covid-19 outbreak. Ms Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Sir Keir Starmer are the three remaining candidates, with the successor to Jeremy Corbyn due to be announced on April 4. She told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “I think it’s trying to deal with these strange times and have an announcement on the leadership contest that our members and the public can view from their homes really.

“It’s logistically quite challenging and I think we’ve all been asked to do this victory speech so that it can be send out over the airwaves as quickly as possible after we win.

“I haven’t done mine yet, by the way.”

Asked if she would feel awkward recording the video ahead of the result, Ms Long-Bailey said: “It’s going to be a bit bizarre.”

Ms Long-Bailey did not rule out potentially joining a national unity government if elected as the next Labour leader.

Asked if she would be prepared to join such a government, she told Sky’s Sophy Ridge programme: “I’ve already been collaborating with the government and urging them to listen to my advice and the advice of my colleagues in tackling this crisis, because we want to be as helpful as possible.”

She added: “We are not criticising the government when we are offering our suggestions as to how this crisis can be better dealt with.

“We’re trying to help and that’s what I’ll do as leader, and that’s what I’ll do if I’m not leader, if I’m supporting a new leader.”

Source: Read Full Article

Pelosi expects bipartisan House vote for $2 trillion coronavirus bill Friday

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she expected the chamber to pass an estimated $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill when it meets on Friday, after the Senate overwhelmingly approved the unprecedented economic rescue legislation Wednesday evening.

“Tomorrow we’ll bring the bill to the floor. It will pass with strong bipartisan support,” Pelosi, a Democrat, told reporters.

The legislation will rush direct payments to Americans within three weeks once the Democratic-controlled House passes it and Republican President Donald Trump signs it into law, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

The Republican-led Senate approved the bill – which would be the largest fiscal stimulus measure ever passed by Congress – by 96 votes to zero late on Wednesday, overcoming bitter partisan negotiations and boosting its chances of passing the House.

The unanimous Senate vote, a rare departure from bitter partisanship in Washington that followed several days of wrangling, underscored how seriously members of Congress are taking the global pandemic as Americans suffer and the medical system reels.

“When there’s a crisis of this magnitude, the private sector cannot solve it,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said.

Related Coverage

  • Factbox: What's in the $2.2 trillion Senate coronavirus rescue package

“Individuals, even with bravery and valor, are not powerful enough to beat it back. Government is the only force large enough to staunch the bleeding and begin the healing.”

The package is intended to flood the country with cash in an effort to stem the crushing impact on the economy of an intensifying pandemic that has killed about 1,000 people in the United States and infected nearly 70,000.

Pelosi said there was no question more money would be needed to fight the coronavirus. She said House committees would be working on the next phase in the near term, even if the full chamber is not in session. She said lawmakers would need to be on call for possible votes.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy also backs the relief plan, but said he wanted it to be allowed to work before deciding whether more legislation was needed.

“This will be probably the largest bill anybody in Congress has ever voted for,” he told reporters.

Only two other countries, China and Italy, have more coronavirus cases than the United States. The World Health Organization has warned the United States looks set to become the epicenter of the pandemic.

The American government’s intervention follows two other packages that became law this month. The money at stake amounts to nearly half of the total $4.7 trillion the federal government spends annually.

Trump, who has promised to sign the bill as soon as it passes the House, expressed his delight on Twitter. “96-0 in the United States Senate. Congratulations AMERICA!” he wrote.

Pelosi said House leaders were planning a voice vote on the rescue plan on Friday, but said leaders would be prepared for other contingencies. She had said a day earlier that if there were calls for a vote recorded by name, lawmakers might be able to vote by proxy, as not all would attend.

“If somebody has a different point of view (about the bill), they can put it in the record,” she said, referring to the Congressional Record.

McCarthy predicted the measure would pass Friday morning following a debate.

The massive bill, worth more than $2 trillion, includes a $500 billion fund to help hard-hit industries and a comparable amount for direct payments of up to $3,000 apiece to millions of families.

The legislation will also provide $350 billion for small-business loans, $250 billion for expanded unemployment aid and at least $100 billion for hospitals and related health systems.

The House has 430 members, most of whom have been out of Washington since March 14. Many want to return for the vote, but for all to attend would be difficult, given that at least two have tested positive for the coronavirus, a handful of others are in self-quarantine, and several states have issued stay-at-home orders. There are five vacant House seats.

The Senate’s No. 2 Republican, John Thune, missed Wednesday’s vote because he was not feeling well. His spokesman said Thune, 59, flew back to his state, South Dakota, on a charter flight Wednesday, accompanied by a Capitol Police officer and wearing a mask.

Source: Read Full Article

Historic $2.2 trillion coronavirus bill passes U.S. House, becomes law

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday approved a $2.2 trillion aid package – the largest in history – to help cope with the economic downturn inflicted by the intensifying coronavirus pandemic, and President Donald Trump quickly signed it into law.

The massive bill passed the Senate and House of Representatives nearly unanimously. The rare bipartisan action underscored how seriously Republican and Democratic lawmakers are taking the global pandemic that has killed more than 1,500 Americans and shaken the nation’s medical system.

“Our nation faces an economic and health emergency of historic proportions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the worst pandemic in over 100 years,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at the close of a three-hour debate before the lower chamber approved the bill. “Whatever we do next, right now we’re going to pass this legislation.”

The massive bill also rushes billions of dollars to medical providers on the front lines of the outbreak.

But the bipartisan spirit seemed to end at the White House. Neither Pelosi nor Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer was invited to Trump’s all-Republican signing ceremony for the bill, aides said.

Their Republican counterparts, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, did attend, along with three Republican House members.

“This will deliver urgently needed relief to our nation’s families, workers and businesses,” Trump said. “I really think in a fairly short period of time … we’ll be stronger than ever.”

Related Coverage

  • Factbox: What's in the $2.2 trillion U.S. coronavirus rescue package
  • Factbox: 'Mr. No': Meet the U.S. congressman who requested a formal vote to delay the coronavirus bill

The Democratic-led House approved the package on a voice vote, turning back a procedural challenge from Republican Representative Thomas Massie, who had sought to force a formal, recorded vote.

To keep Massie’s gambit from delaying the bill’s passage, hundreds of lawmakers from both parties returned to Washington despite the risk of contracting coronavirus. For many, that meant long drives or overnight flights.

One member who spent hours in a car was Republican Representative Greg Pence, the brother of Vice President Mike Pence, whom Trump has put in charge of efforts to handle the coronavirus crisis.

Pence drove the nearly 600 miles (966 km) from his home state, Indiana, to Washington on Thursday. “We can’t afford to wait another minute,” he said on Twitter.

‘THIRD RATE GRANDSTANDER’

Massie wrote on Twitter that he thought the bill contained too much extraneous spending and gave too much power to the Federal Reserve, the U.S. central bank. His fellow lawmakers overruled his request for a recorded vote.

Trump attacked Massie on Twitter, calling him a “third rate Grandstander” and saying he should be thrown out of the Republican party. “He just wants the publicity,” wrote the president, who last week began pushing for urgent action on coronavirus after long downplaying the risk.

Democratic and Republican leaders had asked members to return to Washington to ensure there would be enough present to head off Massie’s gambit. The session was held under special rules to limit the spread of the disease among members.

At least five members of Congress have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than two dozen have self-quarantined to limit its spread.

The Senate, which approved the bill in a unanimous vote late on Wednesday, has adjourned and is not scheduled to return to Washington until April 20.

Democratic and Republican House leaders appeared together at a news conference at the Capitol to celebrate the bill’s passage — an unusual event for a chamber that is normally sharply divided along partisan lines.

“The virus is here. We did not ask for it, we did not invite it. We did not choose it. But with the passing of the bill you will see that we will fight it together, and we will win together,” McCarthy said.

He did not say whether Massie would face any disciplinary measures from the party.

The rescue package is the largest fiscal relief measure ever passed by Congress.

The $2.2 trillion measure includes $500 billion to help hard-hit industries and $290 billion for payments of up to $3,000 to millions of families.

It will also provide $350 billion for small-business loans, $250 billion for expanded unemployment aid and at least $100 billion for hospitals and related health systems.

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States exceeded 100,000 on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, the most of any country.

Adding to the misery, the Labor Department reported the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surged to 3.28 million, the highest level ever.

Source: Read Full Article

Trump, Michigan governor trade jabs as state's virus cases mount

DETROIT (Reuters) – President Donald Trump and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan took fresh swipes at each other over the spread of the coronavirus, escalating a war of words as the state braces to become one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.

Whitmer sent a letter to Trump on Thursday seeking a major disaster declaration for Michigan, which along with other hotspots for the coronavirus has been struggling to cope with a surge in hospitalizations and a shortage of supplies and tests for the illness.

She challenged Trump to stand with the people of Michigan in a tweet on Thursday night, after he criticized her handling of the coronavirus spread and said she relied too much on the federal government.

“I’ve asked repeatedly and respectfully for help. We need it. No more political attacks, just PPEs, ventilators, N95 masks, test kits. You said you stand with Michigan — prove it,” Whitmer said.

Trump said on a Fox News interview earlier that he has had a “big problem with the young, a woman governor” from Michigan.

“I mean, she’s not stepping up. I don’t know if she knows what’s going on, but all she does is sit there and blame the federal government. She doesn’t get it done, and we send her a lot,” Trump said.

He demurred on whether he would approve the disaster declaration, saying “we’ll have to make a decision on that”.

The number of U.S. coronavirus infections climbed above 82,000 on Thursday, surpassing the national tallies of China and Italy.

Michigan has reported 2,856 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 60 deaths, although Detroit’s mayor said “thousands and thousands” in the state had the disease but were not getting tested.

There has been speculation Whitmer, 48, a rising Democratic Party star, could be picked as a vice presidential running mate by the eventual Democratic nominee to take on Trump for the White House in November’s election.

She has deflected any discussion of a possible vice presidential selection. But the spat with Trump, along with her delivery of the Democratic response to his State of the Union address in February, has elevated her national profile.

Adding Whitmer to the Democratic ticket could help the party recapture Michigan in November. Trump’s upset victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 was aided by his surprise victory in the state.

Source: Read Full Article

Trump attacks Republican lawmaker threatening delay of economic stimulus

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday criticized a Republican congressman who is considering tactics to delay a House of Representatives vote on a massive coronavirus stimulus bill, calling Representative Thomas Massie a “third-rate grandstander.”

“He just wants the publicity. He can’t stop it, only delay, which is both dangerous & costly. Workers & small businesses need money now in order to survive.

“WIN BACK HOUSE, but throw Massie out of Republican Party!” he said in a tweet.

Source: Read Full Article

Coronavirus: Cabinet talks held on Zoom days after software was banned by Ministry of Defence

High-level government talks on Britain’s coronavirus response were held on a videoconference service that Ministry of Defence staff were banned from using just days earlier over security fears.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gathered cabinet ministers earlier this week using Zoom to discuss the latest lockdown measures.

Downing Street even posted a picture of all the secretaries of state dialling in instead of coming in to Number 10 and crowding round one table to avoid catching COVID-19.

But it has emerged the Ministry of Defence (MoD) ordered all workers in the department to immediately stop using Zoom while “security implications” were investigated.

An email sent to staff also told them to be “cautious about cyber resilience” in “these exceptional times”.

A source said after the revelation: “It is astounding that thousands of MoD staff have been banned from using Zoom only to find a sensitive government meeting like that of the prime minister’s cabinet is being conducted over it.”

Another added “I’d rather the cabinet were using the games feature on Houseparty” – another video-calling service.

Zoom has had a big popularity boost during the lockdown imposed in the UK and many other countries around the world because of coronavirus.

But an industry expert raised concerns over its security.

Andrew Dwyer, who researches cybersecurity at the University of Bristol, wrote on Twitter: “Seriously worried by the security of cabinet being conducted over Zoom.

“What is happening here? This is not okay. I doubt the NCSC [National Cyber Security Centre] would be happy, if not mortified, by this.”

Paul Bischoff, from Comparitech.com which researches and tests out security, privacy and networking technology, said the programme is “fairly secure”.

But he warned the company was “slow” to address a “webcam security flaw” last year which “angered” some users and security experts.

The problem allowed an attacker to hijack the user’s webcam through Safari on Apple Macs, he said.

Source: Read Full Article

U.S. Senate offers $58 billion aid to airlines as they struggle to stay airborne

SYDNEY/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate offered struggling airlines unprecedented aid worth $58 billion that will helping cover their staff wages, as carriers around the world seek state support and turn passenger planes into cargo liners in their desperate bid for revenues.

The coronavirus crisis has ravaged the travel industry and grounded many of the world’s planes, prompting governments to take previously unthinkable steps to prevent bankruptcies, ranging from state handouts to temporarily halting competition rules.

“For airlines, it’s apocalypse now,” said Alexandre de Juniac, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents carriers around the world.

“Travel restrictions and evaporating demand mean that, aside from cargo, there is almost no passenger business,” he said.

IATA, which estimates the pandemic will cost the global industry $252 billion in lost revenues this year, said it had written to 18 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including India, Japan and South Korea for emergency support for carriers.

Airlines UK, representing carriers in Britain, asked the government for tax and air traffic fee holidays.

The U.S. Senate passed an industry aid package, half in the form of grants to cover some 750,000 employees’ paychecks. Companies receiving funds cannot lay off employees before Sept. 30 or change collective bargaining agreements.

The bill has restrictions on stock buybacks, dividends and executive pay, and allows the government to take equity, warrants or other compensation as part of the rescue package.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to back the move on Friday. President Donald Trump has promised to sign it.

United Airlines Holdings said capacity would drop by 68% in April and Alaska Air Group said it would cut its schedule by 70% in April and May. American Airlines suspended its dividend, drew down a $400 million credit line and secured an additional loan.

CUTTING JOBS

In Asian countries, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand have announced some financial relief for airlines, but this has not stopped carriers from putting staff on leave and grounding planes.

Singapore’s finance minister Heng Swee Keat said Singapore Airlines Ltd would soon announce “corporate action” supported by state investor Temasek Holdings to tackle the crisis. Share trading in the carrier, which said this week it was seeking extra funds, was halted on Thursday.

Virgin Australia plans to permanently cut more than 1,000 jobs among the 8,000 staff that have already been stood down. Australia’s Flight Centre Travel Group said it would cut 6,000 travel agent roles globally.

In a move unthinkable under normal conditions, Australia’s competition regulator said it would allow Virgin, Qantas Airways and Regional Express to coordinate flight schedules and share revenue on 10 regional routes.

“We hope that this temporary measure will also support airlines’ ability to again compete with each other on these routes once the pandemic crisis has passed,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman Rod Sims said.

In bid to raise revenue and keep some planes flying, Delta Air Lines and Air New Zealand joined others in offering cargo flights and charters on passenger planes.

About half of the world’s air cargo normally travels in the bellies of passenger planes, so the cancellation of passenger flights has led to a sharp reduction in cargo capacity.

“We’ve shared these options with our global cargo customer base and are getting some strong interest from customers wanting to ship to and from Shanghai, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sydney and Melbourne,” said Rick Nelson, Air New Zealand’s general manager for cargo.

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways said it would operate 34 weekly cargo-only flights with Boeing 787 Dreamliner passenger jets to India, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia and South Korea.

Hawaiian Airlines said it had added more cargo-only turboprop flights between the state’s islands.

Roughly 1,800 planes had been grounded globally on Monday and Tuesday, according to aviation research firm Cirium.

Source: Read Full Article