Airline stocks soar amid strong start to 2022 trading as fears of Omicron ‘paralysing’ the economic recovery begin to subside
- IAG, EasyJet and Wizz Air are up more than 10% each on positive signs
- Ministers have revived cautious optimism about the outlook for Omicron
Airlines stocks soared to double-digit gains on Tuesday morning as Europe’s travel and leisure sector added 2.5 per cent, amid a buoyant first day of trading for 2022.
The FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 were up more than 1 per cent each in morning trading, tracking gains in Europe and Asia, as investors cautiously cheered positive signs about the outlook for the Omicron Covid-19 variant.
Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi raised hopes that Omicron is unlikely to derail the economic recovery yesterday by suggesting cases in hardest-hit London have hit a plateau, while hospitals were coping well with current caseloads.
Airlines stocks are among the biggest winners of today’s FTSE rally
Vaccines minister Maggie Throup has also indicated the UK Government will not move forward with further Covid restrictions, pointing to encouraging data on hospitalisations.
British Airways owner IAG was the top performer on the FTSE 100, up 10.4 per cent, and airline supplier Rolls-Royce was up 3.5 per cent.
Wizz Air and EasyJet led FTSE 250 gains by mid-morning, gaining 11.2 per cent and 10.1 per cent respectively, followed by travel and tourism firm TUI which added 9.5 per cent.
Meanwhile, cruise company Carnival added. 7.5 per cent.
Following a volatile 2021, IAG’s performance on Tuesday has driven its one-year performance to 5.5 per cent, while Wizz Air is up 4.1 per cent and EasyJet is down 4.6 per cent over the same period.
The first day of trading of 2022 will bring fresh hope to investors in the airline sector, which has been rocked by uncertainty and restrictions on trade since the emergence of Covid-19 in early 2020.
Wizz Air demonstrated the improved health of the airline sector on Tuesday by posting a 296.3 per cent increase in passenger numbers in December compared to the same time in 2020.
Elsewhere, the FTSE 100’s financial sector has started the year well, with banking and life insurance stocks adding 1.9 per cent and 0.9 per cent respectively.
British retailers gained 2 per cent, tracking global sentiment, even though footfall in shops in the days after Christmas was 24.5 per cent lower than the same week in 2019, Springboard analysts said.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index is also up 0.7 per cent to an all-time-high of 493.55.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire added to cautious optimism, having said there was no risk of Covid ‘paralysing’ the economy, despite disruption in some sectors.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: ‘There is no sign of an extended New Year hangover for the UK markets.
‘The best performing stocks in London were in the travel, leisure and energy sectors. Rolls-Royce, also taking off thanks to its heavy footprint in aircraft engines and spares and repairs, announced some corporate housekeeping with the completion of the sale of its Bergen Engines business.
‘The gains for oil firms, airlines and hotel, pub and restaurant operators reflect diminished investor concern about the Omicron variant of Covid-19 amid hopes it is milder, if more transmissible, and therefore may have a limited impact on the economy and won’t require onerous or long-lasting restrictions.
‘This is not a certainty, and there is the possibility the market might change its mind on Omicron again if there are signs the sheer volume of cases threatens to overwhelm countries’ health systems.’