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A United Airlines plane sits parked at a gate at San Francisco International Airport. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President Trump on Monday vowed to "backstop" airlines that have been hurt by the rapid plunge in air travel bookings amid the coronavirus outbreak, saying, "It's not their fault."

The big picture: U.S. airlines are in talks with the government on a variety of financial assistance measures, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing people briefed on the discussions.

What's happening: U.S. passenger and cargo airlines are seeking at least $58 billion in government aid to survive the coronavirus shock that is quickly proving to be more damaging than the 9/11 attacks.

  • The aid being sought is more than three times the size of the industry's bailout after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Between the lines: Airlines for America, an industry trade group, on Monday released its proposal for a combination of government-backed loans, cash grants and tax relief.

  • Passenger airlines: $25 billion in immediate cash relief, plus $25 billion in government-backed loans.
  • Cargo airlines: $4 billion in cash grants, plus $4 billion in loans.
  • Tax relief: rebates on taxes for everything from airport usage to tickets, cargo and fuel.

The fallout so far: Airlines are slashing routes and laying off employees to cope with the decline.

  • United Airlines said it would cut its flight schedules in half in April and May and is in talks with its unions about steps that could include furloughs, pay cuts or other measures to reduce payroll expenses.
  • Delta and American Airlines also announced drastic cutbacks.
  • International carriers are really struggling.
    • Norwegian Air and Scandinavian airline SAS are among those halting most of their flights.

Flashback: After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, the government made $5 billion in direct payments and up to $10 billion in government loans to airlines.

The bottom line, says Trump: "We're going to back the airlines 100%."

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When it comes to picking a city's top cop, closed-door selection processes have been replaced by highly public exercises where everyone gets to vet the candidates — who must have better community-relations skills than ever.

Why it matters: In the post-George-Floyd era, with policing under utmost scrutiny, the choosing of a police chief has become something akin to an election, with the need to build consensus around a candidate. And the candidate pool has gotten smaller.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
35 mins ago - Economy & Business

Speculative crypto art market takes off

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Move over, GameStop. The newest speculative game in town is NFTs — digital files that can be owned and traded on a plethora of new online platforms.

Why it matters: Most NFTs include some kind of still or moving image, which makes them similar to many physical art objects. Some of them, including a gif of Nyan Cat flying through the sky with a pop-tart body and rainbow trail, can be worth more than your house.

New coronavirus cases fall by 20%

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New coronavirus infections continued their sharp decline over the past week, and are now back down to pre-Thanksgiving levels.

The big picture: Given the U.S.’ experience over the past year, it can be hard to trust anything that looks like good news, without fearing that another shoe is about to drop. But the U.S. really is doing something right lately. Cases are way down, vaccinations are way up, and that’s going to save a lot of lives.