Crain’s Headlines: Coronavirus Outbreak Disrupts Travel Demand


United Airlines aims to trim flights, freeze hiring and halt merit pay raises as it grapples with a swift drop in travel demand because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Chicago carrier’s domestic schedule will be pared by 10% in April and international flying will be chopped 20%. In a message to employees Wednesday, the CEO said similar reductions will probably be necessary for May.

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United has also imposed a hiring freeze through June 30 and deferred merit-based salary increases for management until July 1, in an effort to prepare the company financially for a steep downturn in business. The Chicago-based carrier will also offer employees voluntary unpaid leaves of absence.

In other Chicago-area business news:

McCormick Place has lost another major event due to concerns over coronavirus.

The software giant Oracle will turn a 5,500-person meeting slated for later this month at the Chicago convention center into an online-only affair, becoming the second major event this week to nix plans at McCormick Place because of the outbreak.

And finally, Nordstrom is closing all six of its Trunk Club stores, including the one in Chicago, and folding the fashion styling service into its nearby department stores.

The decision, announced during an earnings call Tuesday, comes five years after Nordstrom paid $350 million to buy Trunk Club with ambitions to grow the personal shopping business pioneered by the Chicago-based startup.


Crain’s Headlines is a joint production between WTTW and Crain’s Chicago Business. It airs every Monday through Thursday on the WTTW News program “Chicago Tonight.” 


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