Kroger says isn’t pulling back bonuses; airlines see uptick

Business

A dog walks over a sign printed on the pavement, in London, Tuesday, May 19, 2020, after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

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The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Tuesday related to national and global response, the work place and the spread of the virus.

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SLOW TURNAROUND: United Airlines said it is seeing a “moderate“ pickup in travel demand and fewer cancellations, and it plans a 75% reduced schedule in July, compared with 90% cuts during May and June. The airline said in a filing that most of the increased demand has been for domestic flights and a few international routes.

— Southwest Airlines also indicated that April might have been the bottom. Planes were only 8% full on average, and revenue tumbled 90% to 95% from a year earlier. Southwest said bookings now outnumber cancellations, and it forecasts slightly smaller revenue drops in May and June. Southwest expects planes to be about 40% full in June.

— American Airlines is dangling its AAdvantage frequent-flyer program — which it values at $18 billion to $30 billion — as possible collateral for a federal loan. Chief Financial Officer Derek Kerr said Tuesday the airline hopes to line up a secured loan from the Treasury Department by the end of June. The $4.75 billion loan would be in addition to $5.8 billion infederal cash and loans that American took to help cover payroll costs through September.

American said its planes were 15% full on average in April and 35% full so far in May.

— Poland’s national carrier PLL LOT is extending its ban on international flights for two more weeks until June 14, but it is resuming some domestic flights on June 1.

— Long-haul carrier Etihad Airways has started making job cuts due to the pandemic. The airline offered no figures for the number of employees let go.

BACK TO THE BEACH: Greece’s government says revenue from its vital tourism industry has been hammered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures, adding that detailed guidelines on how the season will operate will be announced Wednesday.

— Ecuador’s president announced Tuesday he will reduce the salaries of government employees, shut down some of the country’s embassies and sell off a handful of state-owned enterprises in a bid to save $4 billion while confronting the coronavirus pandemic.

The South American nation has been hit hard by COVID-19 and the global fall of oil prices, one of its main exports.

RETAIL REOPENING: Kohl’s has reopened about half of its nearly 1,200 stores in the U.S. as of this week after temporarily closing them to stop the spread of the virus. The department store chain said stores that have reopened are about 60% as productive as they were before the pandemic. The company expects that to increase as people become more comfortable shopping in person again.

— Kroger Co. says it isn’t asking any employees to pay back coronavirus-related bonuses. Photos of letters from Kroger asking employees to return some of their emergency pay were circulating on Twitter Tuesday. Kroger blamed an accounting error for the letters and said it will inform the employees affected that they don’t need to repay any money.

Kroger paid workers an additional $2 per hour between March 29 and May 23, but recently said it was ending that bonus. The company said last week it will pay a one-time bonus of $400 to full-time workers and $200 to part-time workers by mid-June.

— Five Chicago McDonald’s workers are suing the burger chain over what they say is an inadequate response to the coronavirus pandemic. The workers say McDonald’s and its franchisees at four Chicago-area stores haven’t provided enough masks, gloves and hand sanitizer; haven’t ensured workers are using protective equipment or maintaining social distance; and haven’t informed workers when colleagues have suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The company says it has distributed more than 100 million masks to employees and issued a 59-page guide outlining safety standards its restaurants must follow, including adhering to social distancing guidelines.

FACEBOOK E-COMMERCE: As the coronavirus drives more shoppers online, Facebook is launching an e-commerce service on its main service and on Instagram aimed at small and large businesses.

Called Facebook Shop, the tool is free for businesses and customers, though there will be a fee for each transaction. Facebook is also planning to add the feature to WhatsApp and Messenger.

People will be able to shop directly from a business’s Facebook or Instagram page, without leaving the sites.

ON THE DOLE: Unemployment claims in Britain jumped by 69% in April, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. The Office of National Statistics says jobless claims surged by 856,000 to 2.1 million in April compared with the month before.

VICTORY GARDENING: Prince Charles is urging the public to join a national effort to help farmers bring in the harvest, comparing the need to pick fruit and vegetables with World War II era programs that fed the nation.

The heir to Britain’s throne offered his support to a government initiative to bring UK workers and farmers together to ensure crops are not left to rot in the fields. Travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 crisis have impeded the travel of seasonal workers who have done the work in the past.

MARKETS: Stocks closed lower on Wall Street Tuesday, a day after the market had its biggest jump in more than five weeks.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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