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Air travel demand set to decline for first time since 2009

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Passengers wear protective masks as they wait at Hong Kong International Airport, following the coronavirus outbreak in Hong Kong, China, February 7, 2020.

Hannah McKay | Reuters

Global air travel demand is set to decline for the first time since 2009 because of the coronavirus outbreak, the International Air Transport Association said Thursday.

Pauses in corporate travel and overall slumping demand due to warnings about the rapidly spreading illness have prompted carriers to suspend service or drastically reduce China service.

The virus’s impact on demand will cost airlines globally more than $29 billion — mostly in the Asia-Pacific region, IATA estimated. Chinese airlines are set to lose $12.8 billion in revenue because of the outbreak. The trade group, which represents most of the world’s airlines, had forecast demand growth in 2020 of 4.1%, which it’s now revised to a contraction of 0.6%.

The forecast assumes the virus remains largely concentrated in China, but IATA warned the impact could be greater if it spreads to other markets in the region.

The group based its estimates on the coronavirus having a “V-shaped impact on demand” as occurred during the 2003 SARS outbreak, which was marked by a six-month decline and an equally quick recovery.”

“These are challenging times for the global air transport industry. Stopping the spread of the virus is the top priority. Airlines are following the guidance of the World Health Organization and other public health authorities to keep passengers safe, the world connected, and the virus contained,” said IATA’s CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, in a release.

“Airlines are making difficult decisions to cut capacity and in some cases routes,” he said. “Lower fuel costs will help offset some of the lost revenue. This will be a very tough year for airlines.”



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Cuomo says he doesn’t want to fight with Trump over politics

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that he refuses to get in a political fight with President Donald Trump amid their efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m not going to engage in politics,” Cuomo said at a press conference from the Jacob K. Javits Center, which was converted into temporary hospital space by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last week.

“Not because I’m unwilling to tangle, but because I think it’s inappropriate, and I think it’s counterproductive, and I think it’s anti-American,” Cuomo said.

“Forget the politics! We have a national crisis. We are at war.”

Cuomo’s comments came hours after Trump suggested that the Democratic governor would make a better presidential nominee than former Vice President Joe Biden, who leads the 2020 primary.

Days earlier, Trump suggested he would treat governors differently if they weren’t “appreciative” of his administration’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus in their states.

Cuomo and Trump have been largely complimentary toward one another – but they have traded shots over the coronavirus, as well. 

After Cuomo said in mid-March that the federal government “has been behind from day one of this crisis,” Trump replied on Twitter, “Cuomo of New York has to ‘do more.'”

Cuomo was quick to hit back: “I have to do more? No — YOU have to do something! You’re supposed to be the President.”

Last week, the two men clashed over whether the draconian restrictions being imposed to “flatten the curve” of coronavirus transmission should be lifted in an effort to quickly revive the U.S. economy.

Cuomo was asked at the presser Monday afternoon if he was unwilling to lock horns with the Republican president. Both political leaders have approved extreme measures to contain the virus in New York, the U.S. epicenter of the crisis.

“How many years have you known me?” Cuomo responded with a smirk. “I’m a tangler!”

But “I am not engaging the president in politics,” Cuomo said.

“This is no time for politics,” he said. “I’m not going to get into a political dispute with the president, I’m not going to rise to the bait of a political challenge.”

Cuomo added that he was not running for president. In a Fox News interview Monday morning, Trump said, “I wouldn’t mind running against Andrew. I’ve known Andrew for a long time. I wouldn’t mind that but I’ll be honest, I think he’d be a better candidate than sleepy Joe.”

Cuomo said he took Trump’s suggestion as a “compliment” that stemmed from a recent poll showing widespread approval toward the governor’s handling of the outbreak.

“I just want partnership to deal with” the coronavirus outbreak,  Cuomo said. “Look, when you do good things for my state and you’re a good partner, I will be the first one to say, ‘You’ve been a good partner.’ And I have.”

“If I believe New York is not being served – the federal legislation that they passed – I will say that, too,” Cuomo said, referring to the $2 trillion stimulus bill Trump signed into law last week. Cuomo called that bill “reckless” and “irresponsible” because it did not provide enough money to cover New York’s projected revenue loss.

On Friday, Trump said he had instructed Vice President Mike Pence not to call governors who have not been “appreciative” of his administration’s efforts in their states.

“If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” Trump said at the time.

Trump said that Pence, who leads the U.S. response to the coronavirus, “calls all the governors. And I tell him, I’m a different type of person, and I say, ‘Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington. You’re wasting your time with him.'”

“Don’t call the woman in Michigan. It doesn’t make any difference what happens,” Trump also said he told Pence.

But the president noted that Cuomo had complimented him publicly. 

In the press conference Monday, Cuomo called on health-care workers across the country to travel to New York to help the state deal with the flood of COVID-19 cases that are overwhelming medical facilities.

“Help New York. We are the ones who are hit now,” Cuomo said in the makeshift hospital at the Javits Center.

“That’s today, tomorrow it is going to be somewhere else … It is going to work its way across the country.”



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Politics and Food. U.S. Feeds Dominicans, Power Struggle On, 1965/05/10

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Uneasy truce in effect, struggle between rebels and military junta; Colonel Cabano trained in US; food distributed by troops

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Russian regions join coronavirus lockdown as toll rises

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MOSCOW (Reuters) – More than a dozen Russian regions including the city of St Petersburg introduced a partial lockdown on Monday after Russia recorded its biggest one-day rise in coronavirus cases for the sixth day in a row.

A general view shows an empty embankment near the Kremlin, after the city authorities announced a partial lockdown ordering residents to stay at home to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in central Moscow, Russia March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin had told Russia’s more than 80 regions to consider ordering people to stay at home after the official tally of coronavirus cases rose by 302 to 1,836. Nine people have died, authorities say.

Moscow’s authorities have already ordered residents to stay at home, and Mishustin said he thought the measures now needed to be rolled out nationwide.

“I ask the leaders of (Russia’s regions) to pay attention to (Moscow’s) experience and to work out the possibility of introducing such measures in their regions,” he said.

President Vladimir Putin said decisive measures had helped Russia win time in its battle to contain the virus and to prevent an explosive infection rate, but that it was vital authorities used that time effectively.

“This work must be done in reality, I would like to underline this – in reality and not just on paper or for reports. No exceptions whatsoever,” Putin told regional heads in comments broadcast on state television.

At least 14 regions, including Kaliningrad, Tatarstan and the Arctic region of Murmansk, which shares a border with Finland and Norway, heeded the call. Others have implemented different measures.

The southern, mainly Muslim region of Chechnya has imposed an entry ban, while several towns run by state nuclear corporation Rosatom that are closed to foreigners have imposed further entry restrictions.

Murmansk region has restricted entry to the towns of Kirovsk and Apatity where fertiliser producer Phosagro has plants and to other, small industrial settlements. The northern region of Karelia has prohibited the elderly from using public transport.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, a Putin ally, said 20% of residents were ignoring his order to self-isolate, but that he hoped an IT system would be operational by the end of the week that would allow authorities to control the movement of people.

Under the new rules, Muscovites are allowed to go out only to buy food or medicines at their nearest shop, get urgent medical treatment, walk the dog, or take out the bins.

“This may now seem to some of you like some kind of game, a kind of Hollywood thriller. This is no game…,” Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Security Council, said in a video address.

“Unfortunately, what is happening now is a real threat to all of us and to all of human civilisation,” said Medvedev, a former president who was prime minister until earlier this year.

Some doctors have voiced scepticism about the accuracy of Russia’s coronavirus figures given what they say has been the patchy nature and quality of testing, allegations that the authorities deny.

Additional reporting by Anastasiya Lyrchikova and Polina Ivanova, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Ken Ferris

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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