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Grounded new planes, routes, safety inspections

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As an airliner prepares to land, a bird takes off at the Gravelly Point park that's just off the end of the runway near Reagan National Airport.

Michael S. Williamson | The Washington Post | Getty Images

As an airliner prepares to land, a bird takes off at the Gravelly Point park that’s just off the end of the runway near Reagan National Airport.

Airlines can’t get federal officials to sign off on new planes and routes amid the U.S. government shutdown, while keeping federal aviation workers furloughed or unpaid altogether threatens the country’s key aviation sector, industry members said Thursday.

Some 800,000 government workers have been furloughed or working without pay since the partial government shutdown began on Dec. 22. About 420,000 of them, including Transportation Security Administration screeners and air traffic controllers, have been deemed essential and are required to work. TSA officers are set to miss their first paycheck on Friday.

“As the partial government shutdown continues, the human and economic consequences are increasing and doing greater harm,” aviation industry members wrote in a letter to President Donald Trump House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

They said the shutdown is impacting a wide swath of the sector and could hurt federal agencies’ ability to hire and retain key aviation employees like customs and TSA screeners and federal testing of new mechanics.

Airlines need federal safety inspectors to debut new aircraft. For example, Delta Air Lines scheduled a launch Jan. 31 of its brand-new Airbus A220, a plane it’s using to court business travelers with bigger seats and windows. It needs to fly with FAA safety inspectors before the aircraft can be introduced to the public. Additionally, Southwest Airlines is awaiting government approval to begin service to Hawaii.

“This partial shutdown has already inflicted real damage to our nation’s aviation system and the impacts will only worsen over time,” said the letter, signed by unions representing pilots, flight attendants and mechanics, and a trade group that represents American Airlines, United Airlines and FedEx, among other large carriers.

Investors are starting to take note. Jamie Baker, airline analyst at J.P. Morgan Chase, said even if the government reopens soon, it could ding first-quarter airline revenues and said “idled workers are increasingly unlikely to plan lavish summer vacations.”



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Market sees nearly 50% chance of a Fed rate cut by the end of January 2020

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Jerome Powell, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, speaks during a news conference following a Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Jerome Powell, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, speaks during a news conference following a Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

Markets are becoming more convinced that the Federal Reserve will be more accommodative on interest rates.

The fed funds futures market is assigning a 47.8 percent probability of at least one rate cut by Jan. 29, according to the CME’s FedWatch tool, which has been a reliable gauge of the Federal Open Market Committee’s actions.

Futures contracts are also implying a 39 percent probability of a rate decrease by Dec.11, up from only 23 percent before the Fed’s policy decision at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Fed left interest rates unchanged on Wednesday and also indicated that no more hikes will be coming this year. The central bank’s policymaker took a sharp dovish turn from policy projections just three months earlier when they estimated two rate hikes would be appropriate in 2019.

The move came along with reduced expectations in GDP growth and inflation and a bump higher in the unemployment rate outlook. The central bank also set the end of its balance-sheet reduction for September. The Fed said it will begin in May to taper the amount of proceeds it allows to roll off each month and will end the program in six months.

“They did what they needed to do to convince the market of their dovish pivot in messaging,” said Jeff Mills, co-chief investment strategist at PNC Financial Services Group.

“The very important thing along that pivot and the downgrade of the economy is that they also need to take some effort to convince the market that the economy is still on reasonably stable footing. I think there’s a balancing act going on with the dovish policy pivot and making sure they are not making investors think the economy is in worst shape than it is,” Mills said.

The CME computes the probability of a rate hike by taking the end-month futures contract, subtracting the level at the beginning of the month, and dividing that by 25 basis points, which is the assumed level of each rate hike.

“The market got what they wanted and then some,” said Jack McIntyre, portfolio manager at Brandywine Global. “This is a version of them being patient and they are going to err on the side of caution.”



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NY Mets launch new ticket subscription deal for 78 home games

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FILE- In tis April 5, 2010, file photo, New York Mets' fans celebrate after the Mets' David Wright hit a two-run home run in the first inning of a baseball game against the Florida Marlins at Citi Field in New York.  A person familiar with the announcement says Major League Baseball will announce Wednesday, May 16, 2012, that the New York Mets will host the 2013 All-Star game at Citi Field. The person spoke on condition of anonymity on Tuesday, May 15, because MLB did not reveal the purpose of W

Henny Ray Abrams

FILE- In tis April 5, 2010, file photo, New York Mets’ fans celebrate after the Mets’ David Wright hit a two-run home run in the first inning of a baseball game against the Florida Marlins at Citi Field in New York. A person familiar with the announcement says Major League Baseball will announce Wednesday, May 16, 2012, that the New York Mets will host the 2013 All-Star game at Citi Field. The person spoke on condition of anonymity on Tuesday, May 15, because MLB did not reveal the purpose of W

The New York Mets are offering up a ticket package this season that gives baseball fans Citi Field access up to the last minute.

For $39 a month, people can access the “Amazin’ Mets Pass” on their smartphone, which provides standing room access to 78 home season games. The app allows users to scan their tickets at the gate and upgrade to seated tickets on weekdays.

It’s the latest offering in an economy that’s trending towards subscription services for all types of products.

The program targets millennials and “unconventional audiences,” Mets Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales Chris Zaber told The New York Post.

The ticket service auto-renews each month and works similarly to services offered by teams like the Cardinals and Twins.



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Boeing is not ‘pro-active’ enough in 737 Max response, Argus says

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Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a Boeing 737 Max 8, went down shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa on March 10, killing all 157 people on board. Aviation authorities around the world grounded Boeing 737 Max planes last week after the crash.

On Monday, eight days after that crash, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg came out with a statement saying Boeing will maintain its “relentless commitment to make safe airplanes even safer.”

That statement came after French and Ethiopian investigators said data extracted from the black boxes of the Ethiopian Airlines jet showed “clear similarities” with a deadly Lion Air flight that plunged into the Java Sea in October.

“In the near term, the company is struggling, along with aviation investigators, to quickly determine the cause of two fatal crashes involving the company’s popular 737 Max jet. Until we get some clarity from investigators on the cause of the crashes, and from Boeing on its responses, we think a near-term HOLD rating is appropriate,” Argus said.

Shares of Boeing have dropped 12 percent since the crash on March 10. The stock posted its biggest weekly loss in eight years last week.

“If the cause of the crashes turns out to be a mechanical or engineering issue, Boeing can correct the problem and the industry, which is heavily dependent on the plane, the 737 Max jet, can move on,” the analyst said.

WATCH: How individual airlines are being impacted buy Boeing investigation



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