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Airlines get snippy with each other over transport contract for federal workers

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A spat among airlines over which deserved the contract to fly U.S. government workers on certain routes intensified on Tuesday, with the chief executive of JetBlue Airways Corp calling rivals hypocritical for protesting its award.

The largest U.S. airlines have taken issue with a contract for federal employees to buy flights between New York and Milan in 2017 from JetBlue, which are marketed by the New York-based airline but operated exclusively by its codeshare partner, Dubai-based Emirates.

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Delta Air Lines Inc, No.2 by passenger traffic, has said the award undermined the “Fly America Act” that requires taxpayer-funded travel to take place on domestic carriers, for the benefit of U.S. companies and jobs.

The contract also struck a nerve because Delta and peers are embroiled in competition and an ongoing row with Emirates. U.S. airlines have lowered fares to fill planes to Europe – a response in part to Gulf rivals that have added flights at a loss thanks to state subsidies, they allege. Emirates has denied it is subsidized.

The Fly America Act permits exceptions for codesharing agreements with foreign airlines, however. Carriers such as Delta and American Airlines Group Inc take advantage of this, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said.

“It’s quite clearly hypocritical nonsense,” Hayes said in an interview in Washington. “If the big three airlines can continue to win these contracts using their partners, flying on their partners’ metal, why can’t JetBlue?”

For instance, American won the contract for travel from Chicago to Abu Dhabi in 2017, but the flights are operated by Etihad Airways, based in the United Arab Emirates. American previously held the New York-Milan contract.

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American said on Tuesday that U.S. carriers themselves operate flights between New York and Milan, distinguishing that route from those they do not serve where U.S. employees have no choice but to fly on foreign partners.

American is “disappointed by the award,” added Chief Executive Doug Parker at a conference in Washington.

Last year, JetBlue won the contract for Washington-Dubai flights, prompting United Continental Holdings Inc to cancel the route. Emirates operated the flights; a review by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found no objection.

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The U.S. General Services Administration said all its contracts complied with the Fly America Act.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in Washington; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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New York’s coronavirus crisis tracked back to European travel — not China: scientists

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The New York Times reported Wednesday that scientists have tracked the cases of coronavirus in New York back to travel from Europe.

The Times explained that genomes show the link to those who came down with the virus back in February.

President Donald Trump has been celebrating his decision to shut down some travel from China, though not all travel. A whopping 430,000 people have traveled from China to the United States since the coronavirus crisis.

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Warrant for journalists from Jerry Falwell Jr. came from Liberty University’s own police

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A right-wing commentator interviewed Jerry Falwell Jr. during his show Wednesday, where Falwell said that there were two arrest warrants open for reporters who came onto Liberty University's campus.

Upon further examination of the warrant, the police officer who signed the warrant was Detective/Sgt. A.B. Wilkins 206 LUPD. The LUPD is not the Lynchburg Police Department nor is there a Sgt. or Detective A.B. Wilkins. It's the police department under the authority of Liberty University.

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Trump defenders Diamond and Silk locked out of Twitter for spreading COVID-19 misinformation

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Fox Nation hosts Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, better known as Diamond & Silk, were temporarily locked out of Twitter on Wednesday for urging people to go outside and develop immunity against the coronavirus.

“The only way we can become immune to the environment; we must be out in the environment. Quarantining people inside of their houses for extended periods will make people sick!” the pair tweeted from their joint account.

A spokesperson for Twitter told Mediaite their account was locked over the tweet.

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