AIRLINE BOSSES CASH IN ON CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

6:02 AM

Airline chiefs have made money this week whilst CORONAVIRUS has slammed the stock market valuations of airlines as passenger numbers slump.

Share prices in major European carriers are down by more than 25%, and operators have been wasting thousands of gallons of aviation fuel on ghost flights as they desperately try to avoid losing their landing slots. It took a relaxation of the EU's 80/20 slot rule this week to relieve European airlines of the obligation of flying empty aircraft just to maintain their slots.
Today (12 March) Donald Trump banned travel from 26 European countries to the US, which caused airline market valuations to go into a tailspin. But it's not all gloomy news; not, that is, if you are an airline boss. If you're an airline boss, now is the perfect time to buy up your company's shares whilst they are cheap. 
One of today's big stock market losers is British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) down over 9%. Yet Javier Sanchez-Prieto, CEO of IAG's Spanish budget airline Vueling, bought 70,000 of the company's Madrid-listed shares this week at €4.60 each, for a total of €322,000.
Javier Ferrán, a non-executive director at IAG, bought 85,900 shares at €4.67 each, worth just over €400,000.
The boss of low-cost Hungarian airline Wizz Air, Jozsef Varadi, has bought 20,000 shares at £32.16 each, for a total sum of £643,200. Wizz Air is another carier whose shares have dropped sharply since the start of the year, when its share price almost touched £45.
With flight and cabin crew job losses threatened across the civil aviation industry, the PR departments of these airlines have a lot of explaining to do.
MATTHEW FEARGRIEVE is an aviation consultant. You can read more of his blogs here:   https://matthewfeargrieve.wordpress.com/author/mattfeargrieve2019/ 

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