Coronavirus crisis hits airline stocks

Travelers at Chengdu's airport wearing masks.
Travelers at Chengdu's airport wearing masks. Photo Credit: B. Zhou/Shutterstock

U.S. airline stocks continued to decline Monday as the coronavirus outbreak spreads. 

Shortly after noon Eastern time, American Airlines’ stock was down 5.2% for the day and 9% since closing last Thursday. 

United shares were down 4.5% for the day and 7.8% since Thursday’s close, and Delta was down 3.4% Monday and 5.8% since Thursday’s close. 

Hawaiian, which no longer serves China but does have a substantial network in the Asia-Pacific region, was down 4.4% on Monday.

The coronavirus, which appeared last month in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has thus far killed 82 people and authorities have confirmed 2,800 cases, according to CNN. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed five cases involving travelers who arrived in the U.S. from Wuhan -- two in California and one each in Arizona, Washington and Illinois. 

The outbreak has led Chinese authorities to place 15 central China cities with a combined population of nearly 60 million people under partial or full lockdown. The Wuhan airport has also been closed. 

The CDC is screening travelers from Wuhan at Chicago O’Hare, New York JFK, Atlanta, Los Angeles and San Francisco airports. 

China Southern, with flights to San Francisco and JFK, is the only carrier that was providing nonstop service between Wuhan and the U.S. prior to the airport closure. The carrier codeshares with American.

American and United are both offering refunds on booking to and from Wuhan. American, United and Delta have waived change fees on bookings to other Chinese destinations. 

Historically, travel from Wuhan to the U.S. has been modest, according to the flight data analytics company OAG. During the first quarter of 2019, 13,267 people flew either nonstop or indirect from Wuhan to the U.S. At the time, San Francisco was the only nonstop destination. China Southern added Wuhan-New York flights last summer.


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