United Continental Holdings Inc. led declines among airlines after U.S. health officials reported that the nation’s first confirmed Ebola patient flew to Dallas from Liberia.
“That’s pressuring airline stocks a little bit,” Joe Denardi, a Stifel Financial Corp. analyst in Baltimore, said today in an interview. “The worse the news headlines get about this, the more risk there is to airlines.”
U.S. carriers operate only a handful of flights to Africa, where the Ebola virus outbreak is concentrated. Any potential financial threat to the domestic industry would occur only if passengers back off flying for fear of exposure to the disease, similar to what happened with severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003, Denardi said.
All 11 carriers in the Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index fell as the gauge dropped as much as 3.9 percent. United, the world’s second-biggest airline, slumped 3.3 percent to $45.24 at 10:33 a.m. in New York, paring a 5.2 percent slide that was the most in intraday trading since July.
The victim’s path to Dallas hasn’t been made public. No airlines serve Africa from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the main domestic and foreign gateway to North Texas, and none of the major U.S. carriers with overseas networks — American Airlines Group Inc., United and Delta Air Lines Inc. — flies to Liberia. Delta suspended operations last month in Monrovia, the country’s capital.
The traveler may have arrived in the U.S. from somewhere else in Africa or via a connection in Europe, and may have stopped elsewhere on a domestic flight before reaching Dallas.
The patient, whose name hasn’t been released, is being kept in isolation in an intensive care unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. He is critically ill, the Centers for Disease Control said.
American fell 4.3 percent to $33.94, while Delta dropped 4.1 percent to $34.65.
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