Shares in travel and airline companies, including British Airways’ owners, IAG, easyJet and aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce, plunged on Friday on fears that a new variant of the corona virus is described as potentially the worst identified so far could lead to a new wave of global pandemic restrictions.
The emergence of the new variant, which was identified on Tuesday and is feared to be more transmissible and poses a threat to current vaccines, prompted the government to put six southern African countries back on England’s red list for travel on Thursday night.
Flights from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini to be interrupted from noon on Friday. Officials are also reviewing a number of travel measures, including whether there should be a limited reintroduction of the use of PCR tests on arrivals.
The news led to a sharp sale of travel shares on Friday, where IAG, which also owns the airline Iberia, fell by as much as 14% in early trading.
IAG was the biggest faller among FTSE 100 stocks on the side Rolls Royce, which receives revenue based on the number of hours aircraft use its engines, which decreased by approximately 12%. Intercontinental Hotels and Whitbread, the owner of the Premier Inn chain, fell 7%.
The FTSE 100 fell by 3% to its lowest level in six weeks on Friday morning when markets in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region were hit by a wave of sales.
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