Airlines Lay Out New Safety Measures: Live Updates
Airlines Lay Out New Safety Measures: Live Updates
In an effort to improve confidence in air travel, United Airlines said on Monday that it would step up air filtration as passengers board and disembark as Delta Air Lines started screening travelers unable to wear masks because of health conditions.
Airlines continue to lose tens of millions of dollars every day, and several, including United, will offer an outlook this week on what is expected to be a long and uneven recovery.
United, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines will report financial results from the industry’s disastrous second quarter in the next few days. Last week, Delta said its revenue during those three months fell about 88 percent compared with the same period last year.
United said that it would leave its high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filtration systems running as passengers get on and off most planes. The move, which it will put into place next week, is intended to maximize air flow.
“The quality of the air, combined with a strict mask policy and regularly disinfected surfaces, are the building blocks towards preventing the spread of COVID-19 on an airplane,” the airline’s chief executive, Scott Kirby, said in a statement. “We expect that air travel is not likely to get back to normal until we’re closer to a widely administered vaccine — so we’re in this for the long haul.”
Staring Monday, Delta said it would require passengers unable to wear face masks because of health conditions to undergo a private medical consultation by phone before boarding. Passengers who falsify health claims could be barred from future flights.
Delta and Southwest are limiting the number of passengers on their flights through at least September in an effort to leave middle seats empty. United, which is not capping flights, has described such policies as marketing strategies. American is also not limiting the number of passengers on its flights. Of course, no policy can guarantee protection from germs spread by nearby passengers at the gate, during boarding or in flight.
Airline executives say the recovery will take years to unfold, with tens of thousands expected to lose their jobs in the coming months. United has warned that it could furlough up to 36,000 people when federal stimulus funding expires this fall. American could furlough as many as 20,000. Delta and Southwest have warned that they may follow suit.
Delta’s pilots union said Monday that 2,235 of the airline’s 14,000 pilots volunteered for early retirement during a sign-up period that ended Sunday. It was not immediately clear how that would affect the nearly 2,600 pilots who were warned of a possible furlough weeks ago. The airline told its pilots on Friday that it would avoid a furlough for a year if they agreed to a 15 percent cut to guaranteed pay, a move that the union criticized as sidestepping negotiations.
Chevron, the American oil giant, said on Monday that it had agreed to acquire Noble Energy, a Houston-based oil and gas explorer with an international dimension, for $5 billion.
Smaller oil and gas firms have been hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, making them look like potential bargains. Noble’s share price is down about 60 percent from the beginning of the year, allowing Chevron to buy its oil and gas resources at a low cost. Chevron, based in San Ramon, Calif., said the deal would add around 18 percent to its oil and gas reserves at a cost of less than $5 a barrel.
“This is a cost-effective opportunity for Chevron,” said Michael Wirth, the company’s chairman and chief executive.
Noble would bring Chevron properties in shale drilling regions in the United States.
The deal would also give Chevron a leading position in potentially lucrative if politically daunting natural gas fields that have been discovered in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Noble has led the way in developing resources in Israeli waters, shrugging off geopolitical risks that once kept other companies out.
Noble has also made a discovery off Cyprus, where western companies are looking for gas, but where a simmering dispute between Cyprus and Turkey presents an obstacle to developing the island’s resources.
Last year, Chevron agreed to acquire Anadarko Petroleum, another explorer, but opted for taking a $1 billion termination fee when Occidental Petroleum topped its bid.
With coronavirus cases still on the rise in the United States, Warner Bros. announced on Monday that it was abandoning its Aug. 12 release date for Christopher Nolan’s film “Tenet,” the one-time marker for when Hollywood hoped moviegoing would return in earnest.
The studio, which has been delicately trying to balance its desire to return its movies to theaters with the realities of the global pandemic, did not announce a new release date for the film, which stars John David Washington and Robert Pattinson.
The studio will move its upcoming installment of the horror film “The Conjuring 3” to June 4, 2021, from Sept. 10. Release dates for “Wonder Woman 1984” (Oct. 2) and “Dune” (Dec. 18) remain as scheduled.
“Our goals throughout this process have been to ensure the highest odds of success for our films while also being ready to support our theater partners with new content as soon as they could safely reopen,” said Toby Emmerich, the chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group. “We are not treating ‘Tenet’ like a traditional global day-and-date release, and our upcoming marketing and distribution plans will reflect that.”
“Tenet” had originally been scheduled to come out on July 17 before the pandemic hit. The next big-budget film that is set to be released is Disney’s “Mulan,” scheduled for Aug. 21. Disney has not yet said whether it will push the movie’s release back again.
Warner Bros. did not offer concrete details for the release of “Tenet,” but it is likely that the studio will open the movie in the locations around the world where it is safe to do so before unveiling it in the United States.
Volkswagen began taking orders Monday for its first mass-produced electric vehicle, an attempt by the world’s largest carmaker to fend off an increasingly serious challenge from Tesla.
The ID.3, a four-seat hatchback, is Volkswagen’s bid to make electric cars as accessible as a Golf, but the introduction was delayed for several months by software problems. The entry level model has a list price in Germany of 35,575 euros including sales tax, or $40,700, about 10,000 euros less than a Tesla Model 3. With government subsidies, a temporary reduction the German value-added tax and manufacturer discounts, the price of the ID.3 falls to 26,000 euros.
The ID.3 is not likely to be very profitable for Volkswagen. But the company needs to establish credibility as a maker of electric vehicles to prevent Tesla from dominating the nascent market. Tesla’s stock market value has soared recently, and is more than three times that of Volkswagen, an indication of who investors think owns the future.
Sales of electric cars in Europe have held up better in the pandemic than those of conventional vehicles, in part because carmakers are offering discounts to meet stricter quotas on carbon dioxide emissions.
Volkswagen has not announced plans to export the ID.3 to the United States, saying its first electric vehicle in the country will be an S.U.V. Germans who order an ID.3 now will receive their cars in October, Volkswagen said.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday that Republicans envisioned the next economic relief package would cost $1 trillion and would be focused on protecting children, strengthening hiring and investing in the discovery of a coronavirus vaccine.
The comments, made in the Oval Office, came as Mr. Mnuchin and Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, prepared to meet with Republican Senators on Tuesday about a bill that they hoped will pass by the end of the month.
Mr. Mnuchin said that there was urgency to pass something before expanded unemployment benefits expired at the end of the month but did not deviate from the administration’s position that any additional funding should provide only as much as workers were earning on the job.
“We want to make sure that people who can go to work safely can do so,” Mr. Mnuchin said. “We’ll have tax credits that incentivize businesses to bring people back to work, will have tax credits for P.P.E. for safe work environment.”
The Treasury secretary said that his proposal would provide additional education money for states to allow schools to reopen safely. Liability protections for businesses to prevent lawsuits from employees or customers who get sick will also be a priority.
House Democrats passed a $3 trillion relief package in May that Republicans have said was too expensive. Mr. Mnuchin said on Monday that a substantial amount of the stimulus money that was approved earlier this year has yet to be deployed.
After Republicans are briefed on the proposal on Tuesday, Mr. Mnuchin said he would begin talks with Senate Democrats.
Marks & Spencer, the British high-street retailer, said it would cut 950 jobs as the company speeds up a restructuring plan, adding to a wave of job losses hitting some of the nation’s largest stores in the wake of the pandemic.
The cuts will be in its head office and in stores. The company said on Monday that the accelerated plan, intended to squeeze three years of change into a single year, would make store managers more accountable for profits and losses and customer service. “Through the crisis we have seen how we can work faster and more flexibly by empowering store teams and it’s essential that we embed that way of working,” Sacha Berendji, director of retail, operations and property, said in a statement.
M&S had been struggling before the government-imposed lockdown evaporated in-store sales. The company’s pretax profit for the year to March was down more than 20 percent compared with the previous year, and the retailer had already closed more than 50 stores in recent years.
Last month, stores in Britain were allowed to reopen but footfall in retails spots, such as high streets and shopping centers, was still down 40 percent from a year earlier in mid-July. Boots and John Lewis, two other larger retailers in Britain, announced plans to cut more than 5,000 jobs earlier this month. Ted Baker, the fashion retailer, is also planning to cut a quarter of its work force, about 500 jobs, The Sunday Times reported.
Stocks on Wall Street climbed on Monday, pulled higher by a rally in technology companies, as lawmakers in the United States began to discuss another coronavirus aid package.
The S&P 500 rose about half a percent, after an unsteady start to the day. Lifting the benchmark was a rally in shares of Amazon, which jumped more than 6 percent. Alphabet, Citrix Systems, Adobe and other technology stocks also rallied, and the Nasdaq composite climbed nearly 2 percent.
Energy stocks also rose after Chevron announced that it had agreed to acquire Noble Energy, a Houston-based oil and gas explorer with an international dimension, for $5 billion. Noble rose about 5 percent, but so did shares of other smaller energy companies like Apache and Hess.
Investors are anticipating news on two fronts this week — more spending from Washington and corporate earnings— and either could set the direction for the markets in the days ahead.
Lawmakers in Washington have begun an intense week of negotiations over what would be the fourth significant bailout package since the virus shuttered large swaths of the U.S. economy earlier this year. The talks come as millions of Americans are about to see their expanded unemployment insurance benefits expire.
The House, controlled by Democrats, has signaled that it wants $3 trillion in aid, while the Republican-controlled Senate appears to want something around $1 trillion. President Trump has said he’s interested in including a payroll tax cut in the next round of aid.
Companies will also report on the state of their businesses, as they release their results for the three months through June. Earnings reports are expected from Microsoft, Chipotle, Hershey and United Airlines, among dozens of others.
In Europe, leaders held talks through the weekend about a proposed rescue package of 750 million euros, or $860 million, to support member countries dealing with the economic collapse caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
A few leaders of the 27-member bloc believe the total amount of aid is too big, and that it should be distributed to governments as loans, rather than grants. But after a third negotiating session broke up Monday morning, and a fourth session scheduled for later in the day, there were signs that a compromise was in the works.
Shares in Frankfurt and Paris ended the day slightly higher.
Chief executives of major American companies are bracing for prolonged pain as the pandemic keeps squeezing the economy.
Arne Sorenson of Marriott International said he was “less optimistic than I was 30 days ago.” Ed Bastian of Delta Air Lines said he was now taking a “more cautious view.” Julia Hartz of Eventbrite said she was expecting “one step forward, two steps back.”
As coronavirus cases spike in the South and West, many top executives believe that reopening plans will be disrupted and a return to normalcy will be difficult, especially amid high unemployment and the lack of a vaccine.
Executives from CVS and Chipotle have weighed in on how best to proceed, pushing for more mask-wearing and a boost in government aid in the form of expanded jobless benefits and small business support. “Getting this wrong — overreacting or acting irresponsibly — could be far more devastating to the global economy and the health of Americans,” said Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase.
Ant Group, the financial affiliate of the e-commerce giant Alibaba, said Monday that it was planning an initial public offering in Hong Kong and Shanghai. The I.P.O. is expected to be big — the company was valued at $150 billion two years go — and it offers a ray of light for Hong Kong, which has struggled under the dual uncertainties of the pandemic and a new national security law.
Ant did not give a timing for the listing, but in a statement, it cited the innovation in both stock markets as the reason for its choice. Although not as well known as Alibaba, Ant has grown huge as a provider of payments, investments and loans to Alibaba’s hundreds of millions of customers.
For years bankers, investors and employees alike have awaited a listing by Ant, which is controlled by Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba. The company grew out of Alibaba’s payment platform, Alipay, which Mr. Ma broke off from Alibaba after what he said was regulatory pressure from Beijing in 2011. Mr. Ma has long said that he hoped to take the company public in China.
For Hong Kong, the prospect of a new mega listing offers potential consolation after China’s new national security law has raised questions about its continued status as a global financial hub. The law, which gives broad powers to Beijing, could be used to force multinational corporations and banks to hand over all manner of data to authorities.
Ant competes primarily with China’s other internet giant, Tencent, to provide payments and other financial services to China’s hundreds of millions of smartphone users.
Dan Feder, a graphic designer in Los Angeles, and his husband, Don Bacigalupi, a museum director, wanted to move closer to their teenage son’s school when pandemic lockdowns showed they could avoid a commute across town by working from home. But they worried about making a mistake in an uncertain economy.
“With so many unknown variables in the world, we wanted as much information as we could get before moving forward with such a large financial decision,” Mr. Feder said.
Buying a home under any circumstances can be stressful. But with some buyers looking to improve their lives during the pandemic and others trying to flee congested cities for greater space in the suburbs, the rush to move could cause unexpected problems.
The pandemic has created interrelated dynamics that make the process more complex. Some buyers want out of their city apartments, having already been cooped up in them for months this winter. If they have children, they may be acting quickly to get settled before the school year starts.
There are also deals in cities for those with cash and a strong stomach. Some of those purchases, costing millions of dollars, have been made through online scrolling and Zoom walk-throughs. But when purchases are driven by video, what catches the eye sells, and flaws can be missed.
Gap, the owner of its namesake chain, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Intermix, said on Monday that it would require customers to wear masks in its North American stores. That followed similar announcements last week from major retailers like Walmart, Best Buy, Home Depot and Lowe’s. The company said the policy would apply to everyone but small children or those who were exempt because of an underlying medical condition.
The outdoor equipment co-op REI is facing a backlash over its handling of coronavirus cases among its employees. An employee at a store in Grand Rapids, Mich., told colleagues about testing positive on July 2 for Covid-19 — a result that managers did not acknowledge to workers until July 9, several days after the store had reopened. The employee described being asked to stay quiet about the positive test. REI changed its notification policy on Tuesday to allow managers to inform employees of known Covid-19 cases among their colleagues, after employees created an online petition accusing the co-op of prioritizing sales above workers.