Delta Air Lines (DAL), United Airlines (UAL) and American Airlines (AAL) fell Tuesday as markets weighed conflicting reports on how a laptop ban may be widened on U.S. flights.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said on “Fox News Sunday” that laptops may be banned from the main cabins on all flights into and out of the U.S., despite a lobbying effort from the airline industry, which sent executives from the top U.S. carriers to meet with him earlier this month.
On Tuesday afternoon, Politico reported the U.S. won’t ban the devices on flights to the U.S. from Europe, following a call between Kelly, European Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, and EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc.
A few hours later, a Homeland Security Department spokesman reportedly said that Kelly told his European counterparts that the ban is is “still on the table.”
The U.S. has already banned electronic devices larger than smartphones from inbound flights on several Middle East-based airlines originating from several Middle Eastern and African airports.
That restriction has hurt carriers like Emirates, which competes against Delta, United and American for lucrative trans-Atlantic traffic. Earlier this month, Emirates said it will reduce flights to several U.S. destinations, citing the device ban as well as tougher policies on security vetting and visas.
Shares of Delta sold off 3% early, then halved their losses before closing down 3.4% at 49.06 on the stock market today. Other airlines followed similar patterns. United finished 2.5% lower, re-entering buy range after surging 4.2% last week on oil’s latest sell-off. American fell 1.6%, still in buying territory. Southwest (LUV) and JetBlue (JBLU), which have been adding flights to Latin America, both fell 2% but also are still in buy ranges. More domestic-focused carrier Alaska Air Group (ALK) lost 0.9%, and Hawaiian Holdings (HA) dipped 0.4%.
Another factor potentially weighing on airline stocks is news that European budget carrier Ryanair (RYAAY) is looking to accelerate its global fleet growth with more narrow-body Boeing (BA) planes…