MARKET REPORT: Airlines face £63bn blow as travel ban takes its toll

Despite desperate pleas from the industry, the Government still has yet to offer airlines a tailormade bailout deal. 

Companies’ calls for a safety net will likely become louder after the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global industry body, released its latest set of alarming numbers. 

It now reckons European airlines could lose £63billion in passenger revenues over the course of 2020 as demand is projected to be almost half what it was last year. 

For the UK, this boils down to 113.5m fewer passengers expected to travel this year, potentially knocking out £18billion worth of revenues, putting 402,000 jobs at risk and depriving the economy of around £27billion. 

Grounded: The share prices of British Airways-owner IAG and budget carriers Easyjet, Ryanair and Wizz Air, have all roughly halved in value since the market began to dive in late February

The share prices of British Airways-owner IAG and budget carriers Easyjet, Ryanair and Wizz Air, have all roughly halved in value since the market began to dive in late February. 

The Government has so far insisted taxpayer support would only be an option if all commercial avenues have been fully explored – which could mean tapping investors for more cash. 

But shareholders were still feeling positive about airline stocks yesterday.

IAG rose 0.6 per cent, or 1.4p, to 231.5p last night, while Easyjet inched 0.3 per cent higher, or 1.6p, to 652.4p, Wizz Air climbed 9.1 per cent, or 203p, to 2423p and Ryanair rose 0.4 per cent, or 4 cents, to €9.70. 

The FTSE 100 kept climbing after recording its strongest twoday surge ever earlier this week. The blue-chip index rose 2.2 per cent, or 127.53 points, to 5815.73, while the mid-cap FTSE250 edged up 3.8 per cent, or 560.8 points, to 15380.71. 

Stock Watch – Ariana Resources 

Gold mining group Ariana Resources has been handed £1.6million in dividend payments by its Galata subsidiary in Turkey. 

It was the first time Ariana has received a dividend for work at the Kiziltepe gold mine and came after the site began generating cash and profits. 

The mine is expected to produce an average of 20,000oz of gold equivalent a year for eight years. 

Shares in Ariana, which supplies the Turkish government with gold, jumped 4 per cent, or 0.1p, to 2.59p. 

Wall Street accelerated as traders focused on a £1.7trillion stimulus package that cleared the US Senate overnight instead of the release of the worst unemployment claims data in history. 

The Dow Jones, Nasdaq and S&P 500 all climbed too. Back in the UK, a cluster of industrial groups became the latest firms to take decisive action and cut their dividend ahead of an expected slump in trading. 

Marine engineering services group James Fisher (down 0.2 per cent, or 2p, to 1298p) also cut directors’ salaries by 20 per cent and froze hiring – though it added trading in the first two months of 2020 was ahead of last year. 

Fellow engineer Weir Group (up 1.1 per cent, or 8.2p, to 745p) cancelled its payout as its North American oil and gas business began to slow amid a crash in oil prices. 

Aerospace supplier Senior (up 1.2 per cent, or 0.9p, to 76p) also jettisoned its financial guidance for 2020, while building materials group SIG (up 0.3 per cent, or 0.08p, to 31p) withdrew the payout as it reported a £9million loss for the first two months of the year. 

Retailer Topps Tiles also took aim at its dividend, saying it was ‘impossible’ to assess its financial outlook – but reassurances such as it is still trading online and that it has a good supply of cash saw its shares rocket 19.4 per cent, or 6.7p, to 41.2p. 

Storage firm Big Yellow (up 0.2 per cent, or 1.5p, to 931.5p) reported a jump in demand in the face of the coronavirus lockdown, with higher demand almost across the board from families, students and businesses. 

It has agreed rent deferrals and holidays on a caseby-case basis. Mark Tompkins, chairman of troubled private hospital provider NMC Health (whose shares are suspended amid a scandal about its finances), stepped down following ongoing problems at the firm. 

Over on AIM, iodine makerturned-hemp-producer Iofina announced that Brexit-backer Arron Banks has dropped his request to hold a general meeting at the firm, which he had been unhappy with for its move into hemp. Iofina shares slid 2.5 per cent, or 0.33p, to 12.93p.

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