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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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United CEO Oscar Munoz. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said in a letter sent Monday to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and congressional leaders that the coronavirus outbreak's financial impact on airlines is "much worse than the stark downturn that we saw in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks," as first reported by Politico.

Why it matters: Munoz asked government leaders "to please act quickly — this week — to protect our livelihoods" and projected that the company's revenue this month will be $1.5 billion lower than March 2019.

  • United said in a statement Sunday that it will cut capacity by about 50% for the rest of March, April and May.

What he's saying:

"March is typically our busiest month of the year. This year, in just the first two weeks of March, we have welcomed more than one million fewer customers on board our aircraft than the same period last year.
"The bad news is that it’s getting worse. We expect both the number of customers and revenue to decline sharply in the days and weeks ahead.
"To be clear, we’re asking for bipartisan action by the Administration and the United States Congress this week to offer support to the men and women of United Airlines. Their jobs are now at risk because United had to stop service to countries with travel bans and we’ve been forced to dramatically shrink our schedule in response to dramatically shrinking demand."

The big picture: Many airlines are cutting capacity and making emergency cost reductions to align with diminished travel demand.

  • Delta announced last week that it will reduce its flight capacity by 40% for the next four months due to the coronavirus outbreak, a dramatic increase from its original 15% reduction.
  • Virgin Atlantic announced Monday that is asking staff to take eight weeks of unpaid leave as it reduces flights per day by 80% and grounds about 75% of its fleet.

What's next: President Trump vowed this week to "backstop" airlines that have been hurt by reduced demand during the coronavirus outbreak, saying the issue is "not their fault."

  • U.S. airlines are seeking more than $50 billion in financial assistance from the government, which is three times the size of the industry’s bailout following the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Go deeper

Tracking the pandemic's unequal impact

Expand chart
Data: Morning Consult/Axios; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The pandemic was bound to hit the most economically vulnerable among us the hardest. New polling data from Morning Consult, out this morning, shows the degree to which those difficulties were more concentrated among people of color.

Catch up quick: The Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index has tracked the economic experience of adults in three wage groups since May 2020. We began publishing the findings in May of this year, and six months in, we’re slicing the data a little differently — and looking at inequality between ethnicities.

2 hours ago - Health

WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaking in Geneva in October. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization said Monday in a new risk assessment that it believes the COVID-19 Omicron variant poses a "very high" risk to the globe because it may be more transmissible than other strains of the virus.

Why it matters: Though the WHO acknowledged there are still many uncertainties associated with the variant, the agency said it believes the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron around the world is "high."

Battle for the soul of a new web

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A well-funded and intensely motivated chunk of tech's hive mind is finding common cause in a vast new project: rebuilding the web on a foundation of cryptocurrency and blockchain tech. They call it "Web3."

The big picture: Developers, investors and early adopters imagine a future in which the technologies that enable Bitcoin and Ethereum will break up the concentrated power today's tech giants wield and usher in a golden age of individual empowerment and entrepreneurial freedom.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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