US airlines have begun laying off thousands of workers after efforts to negotiate a new economic relief plan in Congress stalled.
American Airlines says it shedding 19,000 workers and United Airlines 13,000.
The carriers – badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic – say they are ready to reverse the decisions if more financing is found.
The airlines have received billions of dollars from the federal government.
Congress agreed the aid agreed earlier in the year as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act [Cares Act]. It was conditional that the carriers did not lay off workers until 1 October.
Airlines worldwide have been hit by a massive fall in demand caused by the pandemic.
In a letter to staff announcing the layoffs, American Airlines Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker said: "I am extremely sorry we have reached this outcome. It is not what you all deserve."
On Wednesday United Airlines, in a message to its employees, said it was imploring "our elected leaders to reach a compromise, get a deal done now, and save jobs".
"In a continuing effort to give the federal government every opportunity to act, we have made clear to leadership in the administration, Congress and among our union partners that we can and will reverse the furlough process if the Cares Act Payroll Support Program is extended in the next few days."
It added: "To our departing 13,000 family members: thank you for your dedication and we look forward to welcoming you back."
The layoffs increase pressure on Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi who have beRead More – Source
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Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger
Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.
The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.
“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”
It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.
Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.
The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.
Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.
On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.
Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections
People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.
Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.
The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.
He’s focussing on security and education.
Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.
“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.
Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.
Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.
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