The French government announced an enormous financial support program on Tuesday for its flagship aviation industry as global travel restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic slash passenger flights and orders for new planes, putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk.

The 15 billion euro package (almost $17 billion), which includes some previously announced measures, includes aid for Air France, Airbus and major French parts suppliers through direct government investment, subsidies, loans and loan guarantees. It also includes a special fund jointly financed by the government, Airbus and other big manufacturers to support small suppliers.

In exchange for the support, companies will be required to invest more in low-emission aircraft, powered by electricity, hydrogen and other means, as the government capitalizes on the opportunity to make the French aviation industry the “cleanest in the world.”

“We are declaring a state of emergency to save our aeronautical industry to allow it to be more competitive,” Bruno Le Maire, the finance minister, said at a news briefing with France’s defense and environment ministers. He said the plan would allow France to set new global standards for low-carbon aircraft, with €1.5 billion earmarked over the next three years on research and development to develop a carbon-neutral aircraft by 2035.

The aeronautical sector is one of the biggest employers in France, providing 300,000 direct and indirect jobs in manufacturing, research and development. A third of those would have been wiped out if the government did not step in, Mr. LeMaire said, adding that preserving jobs was the top priority.

Air France and Airbus have announced that they are examining job cuts as airlines operate at a small fraction of their normal capacity and orders for planes crater. The money would come with no rules forbidding layoffs, but Mr. LeMaire called on companies receiving aid not to resort to job cuts.

France has spent hundreds of billions of euros on paid furlough programs intended to prevent mass unemployment. The measures announced Tuesday would allow employers to tap government-paid furlough schemes, and come on top of an ‎‎€18 billion support package for the battered tourism industry and ‎€8 billion in aid to Renault and other French manufacturers in the auto sector.

  • Updated June 5, 2020

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      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

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      Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

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      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


Under the plan announced Tuesday, France’s public investment bank, Bpifrance, will provide a total of around ‎€500 million in loans to Airbus; Safran, a maker of jet engines and other components; Dassault Aviation, a military and commercial aircraft manufacturer; and Thales, which makes aerospace electrical systems.

Additionally, France’s defense and interior departments will speed up orders for ‎€600 million worth of Airbus aircraft.

The plan also calls for the French military to double its spending to around ‎€100 million at small and midsize companies that develop light surveillance planes and drones to ensure the preservation of thousands of additional jobs over three years.

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