With help from Brianna Gurciullo

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— Transportation sectors are experiencing widely varying fates as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the country.

— Coronavirus cases in air traffic control towers are straining the FAA’s ability to efficiently manage the national airspace.

— Problems persisted on Tuesday with U.S. efforts to fly home Americans who are stranded in Peru.

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“I can shift, cannot steer / So I drive them away.”

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MORE GRIM NUMBERS: The International Air Transport Association, a trade group representing airlines around the world, offered bleak new projections on Tuesday as air carrier revenue continues to sink. IATA’s latest estimates of passenger revenue loss for airlines globally is $252 billion, more than double its projections from just a few weeks ago, and representing a 44 percent decrease compared with 2019.

The group’s chief also called on governments to provide airlines money with “minimum conditions and maximum speed,” and said that “linking a money injection with fuel efficient aircraft,” as House Democrats are pushing for, is “particularly difficult to implement in this crisis situation.”

From the TSA come striking figures that illustrate the rapid descent of aviation in the U.S.: 331,431 travelers passed through TSA checkpoints on Tuesday, more than 2 million less than the corresponding weekday in 2019, and a million and a half less than just three weeks ago.

One area where the stats aren’t so bad: The trucking industry, which is moving its goods at an unprecedented pace, given the empty roads. Trucks are sailing through areas that are usually the worst traffic bottlenecks in the country, our Tanya Snyder writes. Atlanta’s infamous Spaghetti Junction, where I-85 meets I-285, saw average afternoon truck speeds of 53 miles per hour last week, compared with usual afternoon rush hour speeds under 15 miles per hour.

Meanwhile, trucking regulators have further loosened rules for drivers as a result of the coronavirus. FMCSA announced on Tuesday that drivers whose commercial drivers’ licenses or medical cards recently expired or will expire soon can keep using those documents through at least June, since state DMV and medical clinic closures have made it difficult to renew.

AS IF AVIATION WASN’T UNDER ENOUGH STRAIN: The coronavirus is challenging the nation’s air traffic control system, with workers at almost a dozen facilities from Las Vegas to New York testing positive so far, our Brianna Gurciullo reports. Most of the facilities have been airport towers, but two centers that oversee large amounts of airspace have also been affected.

For now, the FAA has been able to keep the situation largely under control. A controller who works at a large facility in the D.C. area said the system will be strained if a major air traffic control center is forced to close for several weeks, or if two centers in the same region are both shut down. However, fewer planes being in the sky will ease disruptions.

THE LATEST ON STRANDED AMERICANS: A LatAm flight organized by the State Department to pick up Americans in Cusco, Peru, was canceled on Tuesday, according to a message sent to Americans there by congressional staff. Negotiations were also ongoing over landing permissions for another flight, operated by American Airlines, set to pick up stuck U.S. citizens in Lima, while that plane was midair, according to the message.

The American flight was not cleared to land and never made it to Lima. State did not respond to a request for comment, but said in a separate statement that, as of Tuesday, it had successfully repatriated more than 9,000 Americans from 28 countries.

“We continue to express concerns to the Peruvian embassy in DC, as have senior State officials in DC and Lima, that the necessary permissions be granted without further delay,” said the message, which came from the office of Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.).

MT readers will recall that a U.S. official had accused Peru of holding Americans “hostage” as it demanded its own citizens in the U.S. be able to return, too.

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AMTRAK’S POLICE DEPARTMENT DEALING WITH COVID: An Amtrak police officer stationed in New York’s Penn Station has tested positive for coronavirus, your host reports. According to the union representing Amtrak officers, five or six others may have been infected, and the union is pushing for more cleaning (although Amtrak says it does a “thorough disinfection and cleaning overnight” at each of its stations, including Penn).

Amtrak police officers are also being asked to temporarily forego raises that are scheduled for week, according to Amtrak’s Fraternal Order of Police President Will Gonzalez, as the railroad looks to cut costs in response to plummeting ridership and revenue.

FORD STEPS UP: Ford Motor Company, 3M and GE Healthcare are teaming up to make medical equipment at Ford plants in Michigan, Tanya reports. The companies will be making more than 100,000 plastic face shields per week, in partnership with United Auto Workers, as well as respirators and potentially ventilators. Ford did not yet have data on how many auto workers would be brought back for the medical equipment manufacturing work.

— “Boeing tells some suppliers to stop deliveries immediately.” Puget Sound Business Journal.

— “WestJet to lose nearly half its workforce amid coronavirus pandemic.” POLITICO Canada.

— “McDonald’s designs new ordering system for truck drivers as 1.8 million truckers struggle to find food on the road amid pandemic.” BusinessInsider.

— “Facing worker shortages, nation’s biggest transit system cuts service.” POLITICO Pro.

— “Boeing CEO does not want U.S. to take stake in company after coronavirus stimulus.” Reuters.

— “Many airline flights nearly empty as virus undercuts travel.” Associated Press.

DOT appropriations run out in 188 days. The FAA reauthorization expires in 1,285 days. Highway and transit policy is up for renewal in 188 days.





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