Airlines turn to cargo for revenue as U.S. Senate nears industry aid vote

SYDNEY/CHICAGO (Reuters) – Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) and Air New Zealand Ltd (AIR.NZ) said they would offer cargo charter services on passenger planes to boost revenue as the U.S. Senate neared a vote on a bill to give its carriers $58 billion in aid, including payroll support.

Delta Air Lines passenger planes are seen parked due to flight reductions made to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S. March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

The passenger travel industry has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, with Australia’s Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd (FLT.AX) on Thursday announcing plans to cut 6,000 travel agent roles globally, either temporarily or permanently.

Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd (VAH.AX) plans to permanently cut more than 1,000 jobs among the 8,000 staff that have been stood down due to cuts to its flying schedule, Chief Executive Paul Scurrah said.

“That is going to be heartbreaking for those people. This is no fault of theirs,” Scurrah told the Australian Broadcasting Corp on Thursday. “This is the worst airline crisis the industry has ever seen.”

New Zealand’s Auckland International Airport Ltd (AIA.NZ) said it had cut 90 contractors and was talking to its staff about reducing hours and salaries by 20% as demand plummets.

In the United States, United Airlines Holdings Inc (UAL.O) announced further cuts to domestic capacity, meaning its overall capacity, including international, will be down by around 68% in April.

The U.S. Senate is preparing to vote on an industry aid package, half in the form of grants to

Keep reading this article on Reuters Business.

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