Airline Shares Off Sharply After Trump Imposes Travel Limits

Airline stocks tumbled on Thursday morning after President Trump prohibited most travelers from 26 European countries from visiting the United States for 30 days.

The three big U.S. airlines that fly trans-Atlantic routes — United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines — all fell more than 10 percent in early trading. Already reeling from a steep decline in bookings because of the coronavirus outbreak, the airlines now stand to lose millions of dollars in revenue from trans-Atlantic flights, which account for a big chunk of their international business.

Confusion reigned after Mr. Trump’s announcement, with frantic travelers struggling to understand the consequences of the ban and airlines racing to adjust operations on little notice ahead of its implementation on Friday night.

“This action will hit U.S. airlines, their employees, travelers and the shipping public extremely hard,” said Nicholas Calio, president of Airlines for America, an industry group. “However, we respect the need to take this unprecedented action and appreciate the administration’s commitment to facilitate travel and trade.”

Delta Air Lines said it would waive change fees for all customers traveling to, from or through Europe and the United Kingdom through May. American Airlines, which operates 15 daily flights from the parts of Europe affected by the ban, said that it was “committed to taking care of any affected customers by assisting them with rebooking” and that it was reaching out to those affected.

Travel and tourism between the United States and Europe, including areas not covered by the ban, is a business totaling roughly $130 billion annually, according to U.S. data.

Earlier, European airline stocks also fell sharply. Shares of the aircraft manufacturer Boeing, which has also been hurt by the grounding of the 737 Max and cutbacks in orders, were down 17 percent on Thursday after dropping 18 percent on Wednesday.

In addition to Mr. Trump’s travel ban affecting the 26 European countries that make up the Schengen Area, the State Department warned Americans that they should reconsider all international travel, the most severe caution it can offer short of “do not travel.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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