Berkshire Hathaway sells off US airline stocks, causing shares to tumble

Reuters has reported that Warren Buffet said Berkshire Hathaway sold its entire stake in four US air carriers, causing the shares to fall, and adding to the sense of economic crisis in the industry, the news source said.

US airlines posted considerable losses in the first quarter, and are on track for a dismal second quarter, as travel restrictions and government-mandated lockdowns across the world have brought demand to a virtual standstill.

American Airlines has posted a USD 2.2 billion net loss, its first quarterly loss since emerging from bankruptcy in 2013, while United Airlines (UAL.O) reported a loss of USD 1.7 billion for its first quarter.

Shares in Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) American Airlines and United Airlines fell more than 13% after the start of trading, but had pared losses by mid-morning. United was last down 6.9%, American was down 7.8% and Delta was down 8.5%. Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N) had also pared losses and was last down 6.9%

The S&P 1500 Airlines index .SPCOMAIR has lost 57.4% this year, compared with a 12.4% decline in the broader S&P 500 .SPX.

Airlines in the United States have seen a near 95% drop in domestic passengers and are now working to reassure customers about the safety of air travel by instituting new cleaning and social distancing procedures.

Berkshire Hathaway had held an 11% stake in Delta, 10% in American, 10% in Southwest and 9% in United at the end of 2019, according to its annual report and company filings.