KEY POINTS

  • All three major American airlines have announced a temporary halt to flights to and from China due to the COVID-19 outbreak
  • 20 other global airlines are doing so
  • COVID-19 is staging a rampant outbreak in other countries and Trump tweets, "Stock Market starting to look very good to me!"

Share prices of American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines led the S&P 500 lower in early Monday trading and finished the trading day among the biggest losers due to the untrammeled escalation of COVID-19 inside China -- their major foreign destination -- and around the world.

At the start of trading Monday, American fell 8.6%, Delta lost 6.7% (its lowest price in nearly four months), while United yielded 4%. Day's end saw the stocks in a slightly better position: American lost 8.52%, Delta slid 6.29% and United dropped 3.26%.

An hour after the end of trading Monday, United announced it was confronting a nearly 100% decline in near-term demand to China. Consequently, United said it had reached a decision to suspend flights between the United States and Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai and Hong Kong until April 24. United also withdrew its full-year 2020 forecast citing the deleterious impact of the coronavirus outbreak on its business.

“Due to the heightened uncertainty surrounding this outbreak, its duration, its impact on overall demand for air travel and the possibility the outbreak spreads to other regions, the Company is withdrawing all full-year 2020 guidance issued on January 21, 2020,” United Airlines said in a regulatory filing, CNBC reported.

United is the last of the three major airlines to take this step. American extended its suspension of China and Hong Kong flights through April 24 while Delta announced a suspension of all its China flights from Feb. 2 to April 30.

In addition to these three carriers, 20 other airlines from around the world have also cancelled their flights to mainland China, according to Reuters. These airlines are:

  • Air France (Feb. 6 to most of March)
  • Air India (no flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong until June 30)
  • Air Seoul (flight suspension to mainland China effective Jan. 28 until further notice)
  • Air Tanzania (postpones maiden flights to China)
  • Air Mauritius (suspends all flights to China and Hong Kong)
  • Austrian Airlines (no flights until end-February)
  • British Airways (Jan. 29 to March 31)

United Airlines executives said they are encouraged by the more realistic timeframe for returning the Boeing 737 MAX to the skies United Airlines executives said they are encouraged by the more realistic timeframe for returning the Boeing 737 MAX to the skies Photo: GETTY / JUSTIN SULLIVAN

  • Egyptair (suspends flights Feb, 1 but will resume some flights to and from China next week)
  • El Al Israel Airlines (suspend Hong Kong flights until March 20; suspends flights to Beijing from Jan. 30 to March 25)
  • Iberia Airlines (suspends flights from Madrid to Shanghai from Feb. 29 until end of April)
  • JejuAir Co Ltd (suspends all China routes starting March 1)
  • Kenya Airways (suspends flights Jan. 31 until further notice)
  • KLM (extends ban to March 28)
  • Lion Air (no flights in February)
  • LOT (extends flight suspension until March 28)
  • Oman and Saudia (suspended flights on Feb. 2 until further notice)
  • Qatar Airways (from Feb. 1 until further notice)
  • Rwandair (from Jan. 31 until further notice)
  • Scoot (from Feb. 8 until further notice)
  • Vietjet and Vietnam Airlines (suspends flights to the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau from Feb. 1 to April 30)

Despite COVID-19 spreading rapidly in Italy, Iran and South Korea, and the Dow's 1,000 point plunge Monday, president Donald Trump inexplicably tweeted on Monday that: "The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!"