Airline stocks lost altitude Thursday after officials said the co-pilot of the Germanwings flight that crashed into the French Alps Tuesday downed the plane on purpose. The announcement sent shares of Deutsche Lufthansa AG (ETR:LHA) tumbling more than 3 percent Thursday and more than 5 percent this week. Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525, "wanted to destroy the aircraft," said Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin Thursday.
The plane was operated by Germanwings, a budget airline owned by Lufthansa.
The A320 passenger plane carrying 150 people crashed near Barcelonnette, France, a town in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Tuesday as it traveled from Barcelona, Spain, to Düsseldorf, Germany. Shares of Lufthansa dropped 2.88 percent Thursday, to 12.98 euros.
European Airbus Group, the world's second-largest aerospace group after Boeing Co., also saw its shares sink following the crash because the company made the A320 passenger plane. Airbus had recently announced plans to increase production of its narrow-body A320 to 50 a month following its latest earning release in February. The company's stock price lost more than 2 percent Tuesday following the initial reports of the accident. Since then, shares have risen 2 percent Thursday, to 60.14 euros in Paris.
The aftermath of the crash has also weighed on other budget airlines this week. Irish low-cost airline Ryanair Holdings (LON:RYA) dropped more than 3 percent Thursday in London, to $10.43, while American low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines Incorporated (NASDAQ:SAVE) edged down nearly 1 percent, to $73.68, on the Nasdaq.
Meanwhile, shares of American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ:AAL) and United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE:UAL) dropped more than 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively. The New York Stock Exchange Arca Airline Index, which tracks the performance of listed securities in the global passenger airline sector, including companies such as Delta Air Lines, Inc., Alaska Air Group, Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co., fell more than 1.5 percent.