Airline and cruise stocks tumbled on Wednesday after continued flight cancellations and sailing halts due to adverse weather conditions and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis caused by the spread of the Omicron variant.
According to Reuters, flight-tracking website FlightAware.com reported that nearly 800 U.S. airlines cancelled flights Wednesday morning, and 1,120 flights were delayed. On Tuesday, Delta Air Lines and Alaska Air Group cancelled hundreds of flights, while Southwest Airlines cancelled only a few flights. This was caused by adverse weather conditions and an increase in Omicron cases.
“As European nations mull tighter restrictions to contain the spread of the Omicron variant, experts anticipate a similar trend in the U.S. and across the world in the coming months. As investors speculate a slower recovery timeline for the travel industry, the shares of Southwest Airlines have lost a quarter of their value since November,” noted analysts at TREFIS.
“However, the passenger numbers at TSA checkpoints are just 15% below pre-pandemic levels – indicating strong air travel demand despite heightened fears and tougher Covid norms. Notably, Southwest Airlines stock has lost $11 billion in market capitalization since February 2020 despite burning just $1.1 billion of operating cash over the period. Also, the domestic business contributes almost 97% of Southwest’s revenues and is likely to support earnings amid international travel blockades. Considering the negative impact of the Omicron variant for a quarter, Trefis believes that there is a sizable upside in Southwest Airlines stock.”
Moreover, Cunard, a cruise company owned by Carnival Corp., announced that the Queen Mary 2 would skip a scheduled stop in New York and instead remain in Barbados until Jan. 2. On Wednesday, Carnival Corp closed 0.48% lower at $20.80, Norwegian Cruise Line ended 1.53% down at $21.57 and Royal Caribbean down 0.04% at $78.22.
According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of Tuesday, 86 ships had been investigated, and three more were being monitored for cases of COVID-19. As a precautionary measure, the company added more crew members but did not elaborate on why more workers were needed.
A temporary ban on cruising may be reintroduced by U.S. health authorities as a result of the spread of the Omicron variant, just months after cruise companies resumed operations.
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This article was originally posted on FX Empire