SYDNEY : Boeing and other US aviation companies are seeking billions of dollars in aid as they battle to survive a plunge in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic, while Airbus is pausing production at two sites to bolster health and safety measures.

The rapid spread of the virus across the world has battered airlines as governments have introduced travel restrictions and consumers have stopped making bookings, calling into questions the survival of several companies.

To preserve cash, airlines are cutting flights, laying off staff, suspending dividends, selling planes and flying cargo on empty passenger jets.

''It's now fair to call this the single biggest shock that global aviation,'' Qantas Airways Ltd CEO Alan Joyce said in a memo to the airline's 30,000 staff that was seen by Reuters.

Boeing Co on Monday said it was in talks with senior White House officials and congressional leaders about short-term assistance for the entire US aviation sector.

US airlines and cargo carriers have said they are seeking at least $58 billion in loans and grants along with additional tax changes, while airports are seeking $10 billion.

European airlines have also stepped up calls for emergency government aid. Passenger traffic across the region slumped by more than half on average last week, and the situation will worsen as borders closed, trade body Airports Council International Europe, said.

Industry consultancy Tourism Economics forecast international travel will slump at least 10.5 percent this year, the biggest year-on-year drop. [Reuters]


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