President Donald Trump said his administration is weighing whether to halt flights from some of the cities hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak — including New York and Miami — but is wary of further harming the airline industry.
“We’re certainly looking at it but once you do that you really are clamping down on an industry that is desperately needed,” Trump said Wednesday evening at a White House press briefing.
“I am looking where flights are going into hot spots,” Trump said when asked if he was considering a temporary ban on all domestic flights. “Some of those flights I didn’t like from the beginning, but closing up every single flight on every single airline, that’s a very, very, very rough decision. But we are thinking about hot spots, where you go from spot to spot, both hot. And we’ll let you know fairly soon.”
Trump did not specify which cities would be affected. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for more information.
Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-diseases expert, said Thursday morning in an interview with CBS that “you’re absolutely correct it’s on the table,” but that no decisions on banning domestic flights have been made so far.
With the coronavirus pandemic shrinking the number of passengers, some U.S. airlines have announced plans to cut as many as eight out of 10 flights in coming months. American Airlines Group Inc. said Monday it would apply for about $12 billion in federal assistance.
About $61 billion of federal aid has been designated for the industry. To access the funding, airlines will be required to propose upfront how the federal government could retain financial stakes in their companies.
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