Already facing its worst crisis since 9/11, airline industry set to cut more than 35,000 jobs this week

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For Jennie Ballesteros, having the wings of a United Airlines flight attendant ceremonially pinned to her chest was the fulfillment of a dream she’d held onto for years — ever since some crew members she served as a waitress told her she might have what it takes.

“I’m going to make it,” Ballesteros recalls thinking. “I’m going to have some security. A retirement. A 401(k). This is an amazing job. I was just so happy.”

It was Jan. 2.

“I said, ‘2020 is going to be my year.’ ”

Soon, news of a novel coronavirus from Wuhan, China, began spreading. In her first few months on the job, the 29-year-old was working evacuation flights as people sought to get to their home countries as the world locked down.

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