The trade association for the world’s major airlines is proposing a range of measures aimed at relaunching the global air travel industry — including an end to in-flight physical distancing rules — that run counter to the established policies of Canadian carriers and the federal government.
The International Air Transport Association’s roadmap to restarting commercial flights — which have dropped off by more than 95 per cent among Canadian airlines due to the COVID-19 pandemic — suggests that passenger face coverings have “obviated” the need for physical distancing on board, that aircraft seats provide a further barrier to viral transmission and that air filtration systems are equivalent to those at hospital operating theatres.
Nonetheless, the trade group backs a ban on washroom lineups to reduce “congregation of passengers” in the cabin.
“If we don’t take these first steps in a harmonized way, we will spend many painful years recovering ground that should not have been lost,” said IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac.
IATA’s other proposed in-flight measures include pre-packaged meals to reduce interaction between passengers and crew and frequent “deep cleaning” of the cabin. But even with those precautions — already in place at most airlines — packing travellers into a plane is “really inviting disaster,” said Tim Sly, epidemiologist and professor emeritus at Ryerson University’s School of Public Health.
“That’s bad enough, putting 250 people in an aluminium cigar tube, all elbow to elbow breathing the same air for two, three, four, five, 10 hours,” Sly said in a phone interview.
He conceded modern airplanes have “a heck of a filter system built in,” but said masks alone cannot prevent the on-board spread of COVID-19.
Coronavirus outbreak: Garneau says airlines facing ‘very tough times’ as customers hope for refunds
“I think we have to be very, very careful,” he said, “unless the people sit there with almost a hazmat kind of set-up…connected directly to the air supply above.”
Safety and health authorities have stressed physical distancing on land and in the skies since the outbreak began.
Transport Canada listed “social” distancing among the “key points” in preventing the spread of the virus as part of a guide issued to the aviation industry last month.
“Operators should develop guidance for spacing passengers aboard aircraft when possible to optimize social distancing,” the document states.
Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Ltd. — both of which the association counts among its 290-odd members — say their pandemic policies block the sale of adjacent seats in economy class or throughout the entire plane.
“The middle seat on our Boeing 737s and 787 aircraft and every other seat on our Bombardier Q400 has been made unavailable to book to ensure our guests and crew can continue to fly safely and have more space to adhere to social distancing guidelines,” WestJet spokeswoman Morgan Bell said in an email.
The policy is in place until June 30, “and we will re-evaluate this initiative as required,” she said.
An Air Canada spokesman said that “it is not possible to speculate on the future possibilities.”
In its proposal — titled Biosecurity for Air Transport: A Roadmap for Restarting Aviation — IATA recommended temperature screening by government staff at airport points of entry before departure and, if required by authorities, upon arrival.
Temperature checks’ effectiveness remains disputed as the virus may still be in an incubation period or manifest only mild or no symptoms when an individual is scanned.
“The more you actually understand this virus, the more you begin to know that temperature-taking is not effective at all,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top public health official, said earlier this month.
“Even if you are infected, we know that the likelihood of picking up someone who is symptomatic is relatively inefficient,” she said.
Pre-flight measures should aim to reduce contact points and lines — the defining traits of many passengers’ airport experience — through measures such as “redesigned gate areas” and unassisted bag drops with home-printed luggage tags, IATA said.
On arrival, travellers should expect health declarations and automated customs processes that rely on apps and biometric technologies, it added.
Coronavirus around the world: May 19, 2020
Dr. Paul Pottinger, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, said face coverings do “the great majority of work” to reduce transmission risk. But “inevitably” some passengers will touch shared armrests or lower their mask to eat, making physical distancing all the more important.
“The proverbial two-metre personal space, that is based on science,” Pottinger said. “It is a layer of protection that I envision for all of us regardless of whether you are squeezed into an aluminum tube or walking down the street — the virus doesn’t care.
“The question, I think, is not one of viruses and infection, it’s one of economics,” he said. “Is that risk small enough that people would be willing to pay a price for in terms of the premium on their ticket?”
IATA estimates that revenues generated by airlines in the Canadian market will fall by $14.6 billion or 43 per cent this year as travel remains at a virtual standstill amid border shutdowns and plummeting demand.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
World shares sink after inflation driven retreat on Wall St – Business News – Castanet.net
Shares declined in Europe and Asia on Thursday after a broad retreat on Wall Street triggered by worries over the impact of persistent high inflation on corporate profits and consumer spending.
U.S. futures were lower, while oil prices advanced.
Germany’s DAX lost 2% to 13,731.64 and the CAC 40 in Paris declined 1.9% to 6,234.78. Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 1.7% to 3,537.99. The future for the S&P 500 was 1% lower while the future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 0.9%.
The Dow industrials sank more than 1,100 points, or 3.6% on Wednesday, and the S&P 500 had its biggest drop in nearly two years, shedding 4%. That was its steepest decline since June 2020. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 4.7%.
The benchmark index is now down more than 18% from the record high it reached at the beginning of the year. That’s just shy of the 20% decline that’s considered a bear market.
“The sentiment in the market is highly negative as traders and investors are largely concerned about an economic downturn and soaring inflation,” Naeem Aslam of Avatrade said in a commentary.
The Federal Reserve is trying to temper the impact from the highest inflation in four decades by raising interest rates. Many other central banks are on a similar track. But the Bank of Japan has stuck to its low interest rate policy and the gap between those benchmark rates of the world’s largest and third-largest economies has pushed the dollar’s value up against the Japanese yen.
Japan reported a trade deficit for April as its imports ballooned 28%. The shift reflects surging energy costs amid the war in Ukraine and a weakening of the yen against the U.S. dollar.
Japan’s exports grew to 8.076 trillion yen ($63 billion) last month, up 12.5% from the previous year, according to Ministry of Finance data released Thursday. Imports totaled 8.915 trillion yen ($70 billion) in April, up from 6.953 trillion yen in April 2021, and the highest since comparable numbers began to be taken in 1979.
The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 1.9% to 26,402.84 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 2.5% to 20,120.60. In South Korea, the Kospi shed 1.3% to 2,592.34, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gave up 1.7% to 7,064.50.
The Shanghai Composite index reversed earlier losses, gaining 0.4% to 3.096.96.
On Wednesday, retailer Target lost a quarter of its value after reporting earnings that fell far short of analysts’ forecasts. Inflation, especially for shipping costs, dragged its operating margin for the first quarter to 5.3%. It had been expecting 8% or higher.
The company warned that its costs for freight this year would be $1 billion higher than it estimated just three months ago.
The report comes a day after Walmart said its profit took a hit from higher costs. The nation’s largest retailer fell 6.8%, adding to its losses from Tuesday.
Target and Walmart each provided anecdotal evidence that inflation is weighing on consumers, saying they held back on purchasing big-ticket items and changed from national brands to less expensive store brands.
The weak reports stoked concerns that stubbornly rising inflation is putting a tighter squeeze on a wide range of businesses and could cut deeper into their profits.
Other big retailers also have racked up hefty losses.
The data are not entirely consistent. On Tuesday, the market cheered an encouraging report from the Commerce Department that showed retail sales rose in April, driven by higher sales of cars, electronics, and more spending at restaurants.
Investors worry the Fed could trigger a recession if it raises interest rates too high or too quickly. Worries persist about global growth as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine puts even more pressure on prices for oil and food while lockdowns in China to stem COVID-19 cases worsens supply chain problems.
In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 56 cents to $110.15 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped $2.81 to $109.59 on Wednesday.
Brent crude, the basis for pricing for international trading, climbed $1.19 to $110.30 per barrel.
The dollar fell to 128.14 Japanese yen from 128.20 yen late Wednesday. The euro strengthened to $1.0481 from $1.0464.
Gold prices holding at session highs as U.S. existing home sales fall 2.4% in April – Kitco NEWS
(Kitco News) – The gold market continues to trade near session highs, supported by more disappointing economic data. Rising interest rates continue to cool down the U.S. housing market as fewer consumers purchased home last month, according to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Existing home sales fell to a seasonally adjusted and annualized rate of 5.61 million units last month, down 2.4% compared to March’s annualized rate of 5.75 million homes, the NAR said on Thursday. Market consensus projections called for existing home sales to fall only slightly to 5.65 million.
For the year, home sales are down 5.9%, the report said.
The gold market has seen some renewed technical buying momentum, which has been supported by weaker-than-expected economic data. June gold futures last traded at $1,842.40 an ounce, up nearly 1.5% on the day.
The U.S. housing sector has faced some challenging headwinds as the Federal Reserve looks to aggressively raise interest rates, which in turn is pushing mortgage rates higher.
“Higher home prices and sharply higher mortgage rates have reduced buyer activity,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “It looks like more declines are imminent in the upcoming months, and we’ll likely return to the pre-pandemic home sales activity after the remarkable surge over the past two years.”
Yun noted that the falling sales space is helping to boost the supply of existing homes. The report said that the inventory of homes for sale totaled 1,030,000 in April, representing a 2.2-month supply.
Although sales are down, Yun said that home prices still remain elevated.
“The market is quite unusual as sales are coming down, but listed homes are still selling swiftly, and home prices are much higher than a year ago,” he said.
The report said the median existing-home price for all housing types in April was $391,200, up 14.8% from April 2021.
Ford recalling 350,000 SUVs due to unexplained engine fires, including some sold in Canada – CBC News
Ford is asking the owners of 350,000 SUVs from the 2021 model year to take them to dealers for repairs because the engines can catch fire.
Ford says in U.S. government documents posted Thursday that it doesn’t know what’s causing fires in some Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs from the 2021 model year.
2863 of the vehicles were sold in Canada: 2,354 Expeditions, and 509 Navigators.
Owners are being advised to park them outside if possible because engine fires have been reported even when the vehicles were not in use.
Ford has reports of 16 fires under the hood, 12 of which started when the engine was off. One person was burned.
Trying to notify customers
So far it hasn’t developed a repair for the fires, which appear to start at the back of the engine compartment on the passenger side.
Ford says it’s treating the recall urgently and will use apps and mail to notify customers as soon as it develops a list of vehicle owners and addresses.
“We are working around the clock to determine the root cause of this issue and subsequent remedy so that customers can continue to enjoy using their vehicles,” Jeffrey Marentic, general manager of Ford passenger vehicles, said in a statement.
Ford began investigating fire reports on March 24. It says the fires appear to be limited to SUVs built from Dec. 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. The company says it has no fire reports from vehicles built before or after those dates.
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