The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Friday related to the global economy, the work place and the spread of the virus.
AIRLINES: The aviation industry is teetering on the edge as travel demand crawls to a near standstill but costs remain.
— Boeing says that because it raised $25 billion from a sale of bonds it doesn’t plan to ask the federal government for a loan. The company announced this week it will cut 10% of its 161,000-person work force through attrition, early-out offers and layoffs.
— The Transportation Security Administration screened 154,695 people at airports on Thursday, its busiest day since March 29. That was still down 94% from the same Thursday a year ago, however. Airline executives say they are seeing a very slight increase in bookings, mostly for flights at least 90 days from now.
— Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines said Friday they will soon require that passengers cover their faces during flights. With those announcements, all of the six largest U.S. airlines will begin recovering face masks or coverings, some starting on Monday. JetBlue Airways was the first to announce such a policy on Monday. Delta, American and United followed suit on Thursday.
— The incoming CEO of United Airlines, Scott Kirby, said that if air travel remains very low on Oct. 1, the company will have to lay off workers and further cut the hours of other employees. United got $5 billion in federal aid to help cover payroll costs through September. Analysts believe layoffs are likely in October unless the airlines get more help from the government. Kirby is United’s president and will succeed the retiring Oscar Munoz as CEO later this month.
— Ryanair plans to cut as many as 3,000 jobs and close bases in Europe amid the collapse of travel due to the pandemic. It will operate less than 1% of its flights from April to June.
— Domestic airlines in Thailand are resuming some regular flights, as half of the country’s provincial airports reopened. Department of Airports Director-General Tawee Kaysisam-ang told reporters that 14 of the 28 airports his agency oversees reopened Friday.
MAY DAY: Protests and rallies typically mark the international Labor Day, but this year’s events look markedly different due to COVID-19.
— Some Italian entrepreneurs looked to draw attention to their plight on the nation’s May Day holiday. Some cafes put dressed mannequins in poses as if they were buying products or sipping coffee at counters in their empty businesses.
— The capital in tech-savvy Finland replaced parades and speeches with virtual reality. Helsinki had been encouraging residents to mark the eve before May Day — one of the Nordic country’s main public festivities especially among youth — through attending a virtual concert by popular local rap duo JVG.
— A prominent workers’ union in Croatia held an online Labor Day protest as the lockdown against the new coronavirus prevented traditional gatherings and demonstrations.
TECHNOLOGY: With an overabundance of COVID-19 patients, the healthcare section is increasingly turning to technology to aid in the fight against the outbreak.
— Robot staff have debuted at a Tokyo hotel for mildly-sick coronavirus patients under a new plan to free up beds at hospitals overburdened with more severe cases.
Pepper, a semi-humanoid talking robot, greets new entrants at the lobby and reminds patients to check their daily temperature and encourages them to rest. “Whiz,” a cleaner robot, will operate in areas where patients come to pick up meals and other daily necessities.
CENTRAL GOVERNMENTS & BANKS: Countries are moving toward easing strict stay-at-home orders, but the economic fallout from the virus is becoming more clear.
— Spain’s government expects that the eurozone’s fourth largest economy will shrink by 9.2% this year and that unemployment will reach 19% of the working-age population.
— Malaysia will allow most economic sectors and business activities to reopen Monday, days before a two-month lockdown is due to end after infections fell sharply in recent weeks.
— Malta’s Prime Minister Robert Abela says non-essential shops will be allowed to re-open on Monday. Health services, not related to coronavirus infections and which had been suspended, will also resume.
— Stocks retreated on Wall Street Friday after Amazon and other big companies laid out how the coronavirus pandemic is hitting their bottom lines.