US airlines slash flights over coronavirus crisis

US airlines had already suspended flights between the US and Italy and earlier between the US and China where the new coronavirus emerged in December. (AFP)
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Updated 16 March 2020

US airlines slash flights over coronavirus crisis

  • United Airlines said it would announce a cut in capacity of around 50 percent for April and May
  • American Airlines said it would reduce all international capacity by 75 percent

WASHNGTON: US airlines have announced drastic reductions in flights after President Donald Trump’s administration banned foreign travelers arriving from Europe.
United Airlines said it would announce a cut in capacity of around 50 percent for April and May, as the United States ramps up restrictions to try and contain the spread of the coronavirus.
“We also now expect these deep cuts to extend into the summer travel period,” said chief executive Oscar Munoz and company president Scott Kirby in a letter to employees published on the airline’s website on Sunday.
In the first half of March — usually the busiest month of the year — United had “welcomed more than one million fewer customers on board our aircraft than the same period last year.”
Revenue for March 2020 was projected to be $1.5 billion lower than last March, the letter added.
The airline has begun speaking to unions “about how to reduce our payroll expense,” it said, acknowledging this would be “painful” but that senior staff had already been told their salaries would be halved.
American Airlines said it would reduce all international capacity by 75 percent.
“This suspension will last through May 6,” the carrier said. “This change is in response to decreased demand and changes to US government travel restrictions due to coronavirus.”
It also said domestic service would be reduced by 20 percent in April compared to last year.
Its competitor Delta said it would “significantly reduce its US to Europe flying beginning Monday, March 16, following the US government directive restricting travel between the US and Europe.”
Southwest Airlines said it “will likely make service reductions based on demand.”
The US restrictions on travel from Europe took effect at midnight Friday and were later extended to Britain and Ireland as of Tuesday.
US airlines had already suspended flights between the US and Italy, hard-hit by the virus, and earlier between the US and China where the new coronavirus emerged in December.


Thailand finance minister: economy to recover next year with 4% growth

Updated 23 November 2020

Thailand finance minister: economy to recover next year with 4% growth

  • Economy had bottomed but recovery was not fast as the battered tourism sector hurt supply chains
  • Budget for the next fiscal year will still focus on boosting domestic activity

BANGKOK: Thailand’s economy is expected to grow 4 percent in 2021 after a slump this year and fiscal policy will support a tourism-reliant economy struggling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the finance minister said on Monday.
Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy shrank a less than expected 6.4 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier after falling 12.1 percent in the previous three months.
The economy had bottomed but recovery was not fast as the battered tourism sector, which accounts for about 12 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), has also hurt supply chains, Finance minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said.
“Without the COVID, our economy could have expanded 3 percent this year, he said. “As we expect a 6 percent contraction this year, there is the output gap of 9 percent,” he told a business forum.
“Next year, we expect 4 percent growth, which is still not 100 percent yet,” Arkhom said, adding it could take until 2022 to return to pre-pandemic levels.
There is still fiscal policy room to help growth from this year’s fiscal budget and some from rehabilitation spending, he said.
The budget for the next fiscal year will still focus on boosting domestic activity, Arkhom said, and the current public debt of 49 percent of GDP was manageable.
Of the government’s 1 trillion baht ($33 billion) borrowing plan, 400 billion would be for economic revival, of which about 120 billion-130 billion has been approved, Arkhom said.
He wants the Bank of Thailand to take more action short term on the baht, which continued to rise on Monday, despite central bank measures announced on Friday to rein in the currency strength.
“They have done that and they have their measures... which should be introduced gradually and more intensely,” Arkhom said.