by Olivia Bougault
European airline and travel stocks fell on Friday morning amid concerns about a new coronavirus disease identified in South Africa, rising Covid-19 cases in Europe and increased restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.
The UK has already halted flights from several African countries, and the EU is also considering banning flights from the region.
Aviation companies Airbus SE and Safran SA are the three biggest losers on the French index CAC 40 at 0958 GMT, with shares down 9.4% and 8% respectively, while all major European airlines posted heavy losses on the news. Air France-KLM traded 8.4% lower, while International Consolidated Airlines Group SA lost 11.2% and Deutsche Lufthansa AG lost 10.8%.
A rapidly spreading new version of the coronavirus is causing growing concerns and the World Health Organization called a meeting on Friday to discuss whether it should be classified as a “type of concern”. According to scientists, the new strain has a large number of mutations, and vaccines may be less effective against it.
Countries have started taking steps against the new variant. Late Thursday the UK government moved six African countries to its travel red list and issued a temporary flight ban on them. Anyone traveling from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe from 1200 GMT on Friday will need to arrive in the UK and be tested.
The European Union has moved to take similar measures. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, “The European Commission, in close coordination with Member States, will propose to activate the emergency brake to prevent air travel from the southern African region, due to the type of concern b.1.1. 529.” , said in a tweet early Friday.
European stock markets rolled into the open.
Tourism-related stocks were also in the red on stock exchanges this morning, with hotel group Accor SA and Intercontinental Hotel Group plc down 5.5% and 5.9%, respectively, while cruise operator Carnival plc was down 13% and French commercial real-estate company Unibel. . -Rodemco-Westfield SE fell 9.2%.
The new edition adds to a slew of bad news related to the recent COVID-19 infections in Europe. “The autumn wave of the pandemic is hitting parts of core Europe hard,” Bernberg said. The brokerage said Austria returned to lockdown this week and “near-term, the major risk to see is whether Germany will have to do a full-scale lockdown of Austria.” Other countries also tightened measures to fight the pandemic, although some have so far decided on a lockdown.
Write to Olivia Bugault at [email protected]