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United Airlines planes land at their Newark Liberty Airport base in New Jersey, USA. (Photo: Business Insider)

Airline industry forecast to suffer record US$84 billion loss

United Airlines planes land at their Newark Liberty Airport base in New Jersey, USA. (Photo: Business Insider)

Key Developments:

  • Virus Tracker: Cases pass 7.1 million; deaths exceed 407,000
  • Little sign of accelerating infection as Europe reopens
  • How the virus upended 20 million lives in India’s finance hub
  • China wants it both ways on coronavirus recovery
  • Angst, masks, new safety alert mark my first flight since Covid
  • Where are we in the quest for a vaccine?

Airline Industry Forecast to Suffer Record $84 Billion Loss

Airlines will post a record collective loss this year that will be more than twice that suffered after the 2008 global economic slump, according to the industry’s main trade group. Carriers will lose $84 billion in 2020 and almost $16 billion in 2021, the International Air Transport Association said in a briefing Tuesday. That compares with a $31 billion loss after the last recession.

NYC Sees Just 1% Test Positive

New York City reached a milestone, with just 1% testing positive for the novel coronavirus for the first time since the beginning of the outbreak, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Unbelievably good news,” de Blasio said Tuesday at a press briefing. “Let’s keep clinging to that progress.”

The city, which began to reopen on Monday after almost three months on lockdown, reached a high of 71% positivity in April. The city is now conducting more than 30,000 coronavirus tests a day, he said.

Florida Weekly Cases Mount; DeSantis Cites Testing

Florida reported 66,000 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, up 1.7% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 1.9% in the previous seven days. Deaths among Florida residents reached 2,765, an increase of 2%.

The 8,553 new cases in the past week is the most of any seven-day period. But in a press briefing Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis attributed the rise to a dramatic increase of testing. The new positivity rate — people testing positive for the first time among overall tests in a day — was 3.8%, within the 1%-7% range in the past month.

Total cumulative coronavirus hospitalizations rose 1.6% to 11,185 from 11,008 a day earlier.

Paris Eiffel Tower to Reopen June 25

The Eiffel Tower in Paris will reopen following the longest shutdown since World War II. The French capital’s second-most visited tourist landmark behind the Louvre Museum will reopen to visitors on June 25 after being closed for three months due to the virus. Visitors will initially only be able to access the tower via the stairs and will have to wear masks.

South Asia Cases Rise at Fastest Rate Across the Globe

South Asia coronavirus cases have increased at the fastest rate globally in the past week, as the region becomes one of the latest pandemic hot spots. Infections have risen by 27% in Pakistan, 19% in Bangladesh and 17% in India, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Pakistan and Bangladesh also had their single biggest daily spike in fatalities.

As cases dwindle in the U.S. and Europe, they are still increasing in South America and South Asia. More than 136,000 cases were reported worldwide on Sunday, the most in a single day so far, with nearly 75% from 10 countries in the Americas and South Asia, according to the World Health Organization.

Sweden Says Strategy Wasn’t About Shielding Economy

Sweden’s finance minister says it was never the government’s intention to adopt a relaxed COVID-19 strategy in order to protect the economy. “We haven’t taken economic considerations when we have decided on the Swedish strategy,” Magdalena Andersson said in an interview in Stockholm.

Sweden’s softer lockdown has resulted in one of the world’s highest death rates, relative to the population. Andersson said in May that her country was facing a “very deep economic crisis,” with GDP set to sink about about 7%, despite the softer lockdown. The decisions taken in Sweden have fed into a global debate over the economic consequences of shuttering a society to fight a pandemic.

Emirates Begins Firing Staff

Emirates started the process of firing thousands of workers to help the world’s largest long-haul carrier preserve cash during the industry’s recovery from the pandemic, according to people familiar with the matter. The majority of those being retrenched are said to be cabin-crew members.

Plan to Reopen UK Primary Schools in Doubt

A government ambition to get all primary school children back to classes before the summer vacation has been abandoned, a person familiar with the matter said. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is due to make a statement on the issue in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Iran Outbreak Shows No Sign of Abating

The number of daily new cases in Iran remained above 2,000 for the 14th straight day. The country recorded 2,095 new infections overnight, raising its total infections to 175,927. The virus death toll reached 8,425, with 74 deaths in the past 24 hours.

Death in UK Fall to Lowest in Eight Weeks

Deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales fell to the lowest in eight weeks, even as the UK became the first in Europe with more than 51,000 mortalities linked to the virus.

There were 1,822 deaths in England and Wales involving the virus in the week ending May 29, a decline of 30% on the previous week, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday.

UK Drug Giant Signs Deal With US Agencies

AstraZeneca Plc advanced on another front in the COVID-19 battle, signing a deal with US defense and biomedical agencies and Vanderbilt University to develop antibodies that could both prevent and treat the disease.

If successful, the antibodies could serve as an alternative to vaccinations in some cases.

EU Leaders May Meet for Recovery Summit

European Union leaders may hold an in-person emergency summit on July 9-10 to decide on a proposed 750 billion-euro recovery fund, according to two officials familiar with the matter.

Leaders have already scheduled a June 19 video conference to discuss their jointly-financed response to the pandemic-induced recession. Officials in Brussels say a physical meeting will be needed to allow for backroom negotiations.

Member states are at loggerheads over the size of the package, the balance between grants and loans and the criteria to allocate funds, with a group of “frugal” rich nations pushing to limit the plan’s ambition.

UK to Ease Quarantine Late June, Group Says

Britain will introduce travel corridors aimed at easing quarantine restrictions from June 29, tourism lobby group Quash Quarantine says, citing private assurances from senior government sources.

China Reports 3 Imported Coronavirus Cases

All of the three new cases are imported, two in southern Guangdong province and 1 in Sichuan, according to National Health Commission. It found 21 additional asymptomatic cases, of which two are from abroad.

Hungary Fully Reopens Border With Slovenia

Hungary fully reopened its border with Slovenia from Tuesday amid a gradual easing of measures to counter the coronavirus pandemic in both countries, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in a Facebook video.

Thailand Logs 15th Day Without Local Spread

Thailand’s two new cases were both found in state quarantine, making it the 15th straight day of no local transmissions, according to Panprapa Yongtrakul, assistant spokeswoman for the COVID-19 center.

Once no new local cases have been reported for 28 days, the infection risk will be considered low. Social distancing guidelines still apply, she said.

The government also plans to take steps to encourage domestic tourism in an effort to revive the economy, including cash handouts of 3,000 baht per person for domestic travel.

Abu Dhabi Extends Movement Ban One Week

Abu Dhabi extended its movement ban by one week, the Government Media Office said. Movement in and out of the capital as well as between regions will remain suspended.

South Africa’s Plan to Halt Virus Flounders

South Africa in March unveiled plans to test 30,000 people a day, only weeks after the first infection was diagnosed.

Today, with more than 940,000 tests completed and 12 million people screened, its program is by far the most comprehensive on the continent. But some 80,000 tests haven’t been processed and results can take between five to 14 days, making it impossible to isolate those who are infected and trace their contacts.