The Trump administration is considering whether to temporarily stop travel connections by flight and rail between some parts of the US as a way to combat the spread of coronavirus. "Closing up every single flight on every single airline, that's a very, very, very rough decision, but we are thinking of hot spots, where you go from spot to spot, both hot," President Donald Trump said.
Department of Homeland Security officials say the stockpile of medical protective gear and other supplies is nearly exhausted. The stockpile was not built for a 50-state pandemic, an official said.
Southwest Airlines is offering complimentary cargo transportation to support coronavirus relief efforts and providing transportation to hospitals in its Medical Transportation Grant Program. To kick off National Volunteer Month, the airline is sponsoring a nationwide "virtual volunteerism effort," supporting staff in finding "ways we can put our Heart in Action."
Alaska Airlines is offering 22 digital backgrounds for Zoom meetings representing some of its destinations. Desk chair travelers can download the backgrounds and appear to be participating in meetings from a Colorado ski slope, a Mexican resort or an Alaska flight.
Owning equity stakes in US airlines is not a part of the US government's job, a Wall Street Journal editorial says. While the CARES Act authorizes Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to take airline equity as a part of the terms of the $50 billion relief for airlines, the White House should articulate that "it will dispose of this stake at the earliest convenience." The desire to reap a return risks long-term nationalization, which is not the answer.
Flight attendant unions have unified to plead with the US Treasury Department not to jeopardize their jobs by demanding equity in exchange for payroll grants. Should the government take airline equity, the result would render "the payroll grants a poison pill that will cost us our jobs and push us onto taxpayer-funded unemployment insurance — the opposite of what this bipartisan agreement intended," the unions said.
Atlas Air has operated two flights as a part of Project Airbridge, a medical supplies airlift organized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The relief flights will deliver medical equipment and supplies critical to combating coronavirus. FEMA has contracted 19 cargo flights so far in the effort to connect health care providers responding to the coronavirus crisis with equipment suppliers.
Pausing aircraft insurance policies while grounded is not typically worth the unnecessary risk of having large assets exposed, but there are ways to amend policies during the coronavirus pandemic, says Matt Drummelsmith of Aviation Specialty Insurance. He suggests small operators temporarily change to more affordable ground-only coverage, while larger operators can opt to use a policy's lay-up provision, which gives back premiums when aircraft are grounded for an extended period.
Maintenance, repair and overhaul businesses have seen a surge in activity as aircraft are grounded due to the coronavirus crisis. StandardAero says its facilities are "jammed" and estimates a 30% increase in business over the same period in 2019, and AMAC Aerospace has taken on a number of new projects, including the refurbishment of a Boeing 747-8 business jet.
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