White House set to meet with senior airline, cruise industry officials - Metro US

White House set to meet with senior airline, cruise industry officials

By David Shepardson and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House will hold meetings this week with top executives from U.S. airlines and the cruise industry amid the growing coronavirus outbreak, a spokeswoman for Vice President Mike Pence confirmed Monday.

Pence, who is overseeing the administration’s efforts, will attend a meeting on Wednesday with airline officials Wednesday. Administration and airline officials said those planning to attend include the chief executives of American Airlines Group Inc , United Airlines Holdings Inc , Southwest Airlines Co , Spirit Airlines Inc and JetBlue Airways Corp .

Airline stocks have fallen sharply in recent weeks. American, which was down 3.6% on Monday, is off about 40% in the last two weeks. United, which fell 3.7% Monday, is down almost 30% since Feb. 13.

Pence’s office said he will meet on Saturday with cruise line chief executives in Florida. He will also meet with 3M Co executives in Minnesota, where 3M is based, on Thursday.

3M told CNBC last week it was ramping up production of its N95 respirator mask in the face of rising demand.

Shares in Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings are both down about 40% since January. Major cruise lines have been canceling cruises, especially in Asia, amid sagging demand. Asia accounts for about 10% of the worldwide cruise industry, and at one point the highest number of cases outside of China were aboard the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship docked in Japan.

U.S. airlines report travel demand has fallen sharply. Airlines have cut flights to Asia and Italy amid the crisis and canceled all flights to China until late April.

In response to falling demand, American Airlines said on Sunday it is waiving change fees for all tickets purchased through March 16 if changes are made within two weeks.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

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