Nations ease more restrictions, air travel opening up more
The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Friday related to the national and global response, the work place and the spread of the virus.
BY LAND AND BY SEA: Passenger traffic has resumed at the main airport in Slovenia after being suspended for more than two months of suspension as part of lockdown measures.
An Air Serbia flight from Serbia’s capital Belgrade was the first to land at the Ljubljana airport on Friday. Authorities say they expect most airlines to return by early July.
— Canada’s transport minister says large cruises will continue to be prohibited from operating in Canadian waters until at least Oct. 31 because of the pandemic.
— May is likely to set an aviation milestone: For the first time, Chinese airlines will operate more flights than U.S. carriers, according to aviation data firm Cirium. Airlines in China have slowly added flights since mid-February, while U.S. airlines cut schedules more sharply when the coronavirus wrecked demand for air travel in the U.S. The Transportation Security Administration screened 321,776 people Thursday, down 87% from the comparable day a year ago.
— United Airlines said Friday it will cut 13 of its 67 senior-executive positions, with eight executives leaving Oct. 1 and five vacant jobs not being filled. The moves are part of United’s plan to cut management and support staff by at least 30% in October, the earliest it can do so under terms of $5 billion in federal aid it is getting to help cover payroll costs. American Airlines has announced a similar 30% cut in administrative jobs. United, American and other airlines are making early-retirement offers to cull workers.
DELIVERY DEMANDS: UPS is imposing new surcharges on large shippers to account for increased traffic on its package-delivery network during the pandemic. United Parcel Service Inc. said surcharges for shipments within the U.S. will start Sunday and add 30 cents per parcel to ground and SurePost deliveries and $31.45 to oversize items. The fees target high-volume shippers who are sending more packages through UPS than they did in February. The move follows surcharges that UPS began imposing on international shipments in April. A UPS spokesman said the company routinely adjusts rates to reflect costs and other factors.
SALES SURGE: Big Lots’ first-quarter sales rose 11%, with same-store sales climbing 10.3%. The discount retailer’s stores have remained open during the pandemic, with many consumers shopping for essentials. While sales are up strongly for the second quarter to date, Big Lots Inc. said Friday that it anticipates those sales moderating due to factors including: rivals reopen stores, the planned cancellation of its July Friends and Family promotion, possible inventory constraints and weakening stimulus-driven demand.
SAVINGS SURGE: White House officials are predicting record saving rates as the country shut down amid the pandemic will lead to a surge in spending as states begin to reopen the economy.
Larry Kudlow, the White House’s top economic adviser, said Friday that American personal saving rates--which the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis said Friday hit a historic 33% for April--could fuel spending “boom” as the nation begins returning to a semblance of normalcy. Kuldow’s comments came as President Donald Trump met with a group of executives from eight leading American companies to discuss ongoing efforts to reopen the coronavirus-battered economy.
Among those officials who huddled with Trump and his senior aides at the White House were officials from Dunkin’ Brands, Gap Inc., Hasbro, Kroger, Microsoft, Southwest, United, and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.
TOKYO A GO GO: Tokyo will remove shutdown requests on more businesses in June, when theaters, cinemas, fitness centers and retailers in the Japanese capital can reopen after a coronavirus state of emergency ended this week.
Governor Yuriko Koike said Tokyo is now ready to move to Step 2 of a three-phase roadmap designed to gradually reopen businesses in the city. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared an end to a seven-week emergency on Monday.
— The governor of the Bank of Italy, Ignazio Visco, said in his annual address that Europe’s fourth-largest economy could contract by as much as 13% this year under a pessimistic scenario that foresees a “magnitude” drop in world trade and an intense deterioration of financial conditions.
MARKETS: U.S. stock indexes ended mixed Friday, recovering from early declines as investors worried that the U.S. and China could be headed for another confrontation, this time over the autonomy of the former British colony of Hong Kong.