Dubai: Airline stocks took a tumble this week following the Brussels terror attacks on Tuesday that included twin explosions at the city’s airport.
The bombings in the Belgian capital came three days after the flydubai crash in Russia and four months after the Paris terror attacks heightening safety concerns among travellers.
Major European airline stocks — Air France-KLM, easyJet, International Airlines Group (IAG) and Turkish Airlines — fared badly, falling more than 4 per cent immediately after Tuesday’s blasts that killed over 30.
Most had partially recovered as of 3pm UAE time on Thursday though Turkish’s losses worsened to down 5.71 per cent since Tuesday and Air France-KLM was down 5.56 per cent.
“There is always nervous reaction when the airline sector is exposed to tragedies,” John Strickland, aviation expert and director of London-based JLS Consulting, told Gulf News by email on Thursday.
The attacks in Brussels forced the city’s airport to close for two days, cancelling numerous European and international flights. The country is not a major tourism destination or hub for any of the big European carriers but it is home to most European institutions.
“We’ve seen leisure markets such as Tunisia and Egypt destroyed by terrorism events whilst others that have a different mix of traffic tend to see a strong recovery in volumes over time. It’s a reality that airlines are having to factor in such events and be ready to move or adapt capacity as required,” Strickland said.
Other European airline stocks also fell on Tuesday. Lufthansa was down 3.63 per cent and Ryanair fell 2.43 per cent after the attacks. Both have since recovered some of Tuesday’s losses but were still down overall as of 3pm UAE time on Thursday.
Carriers in the United States were not shielded. The US woke up to the attacks in Brussels and American Airlines immediately fell by 3.4 per cent, Delta Air Lines dropped 2.83 per cent and United 2.8 per cent. Delta and United had slightly recovered from Tuesday’s immediate losses when markets closed in the United States on Wednesday local time but American extended its losses to 3.61 per cent.
In a note on Wednesday, HSBC said Tuesday’s attacks will dampen demand for air travel to, from and within Europe over the next two months.
“We would expect consumer demand following [Tuesday’s] terror attacks in Brussels to be similar to what we saw after the attacks in Paris … Airlines saw weaker demand for travel in the immediate aftermath of the attacks and slow bookings for the next couple of weeks,” the note said.
Tuesday’s attacks, the fourth major deadly terror attack in Europe since the Madrid bombings in 2004 and the London bombings in 2005, is likely to have a negative impact on demand for European travel. HSBC’s note said non-European travellers could now see security in Europe as a risk but also said the peak Easter period may shoulder demand.
Locally, shares of Air Arabia, the United Arab Emirates’ only listed carrier, fell nearly 10 per cent this week on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM). However, its point-to-point network to cities mostly in Africa and the Middle East is unlikely to be affected by what happened in Brussels.