Airlines, Boeing surge to the highest levels in months on upbeat vaccine news

Key Points
  • U.S. airlines jumped by double-digit percentages after news of positive results in preventing Covid-19 in a closely watched vaccine trial.
  • Airlines are particularly sensitive to developments in preventing or treating Covid-19.

In this article

A United Airlines plane takes off above American Airlines planes on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on October 1, 2020.
Mario Tama | Getty Images

Shares of U.S. airlines surged to multi-month highs Monday after U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech reported positive results from their Covid-19 vaccine trial, igniting hopes that it could revive air travel demand

United Airlines added more than 19% to end the day at $41.32, while Delta Air Lines rose 17% to $36.77, and shares of Hawaiian Holdings, parent of Hawaiian Airlines, soared 50% to $20.89, each closing at the highest price since June. American Airlines rose 17% to $13.20, a two-month high. Shares of aircraft maker Boeing rose 13.7% to $179.36, a three month closing high. The gains far outpaced the broader market with the S&P 500 ending the day up 1.2%.

Airline stocks are particularly sensitive to coronavirus news as the pandemic has prevented many customers from flying, pressuring revenue and driving up losses to more than $20 billion in the last two quarters alone.

Demand has climbed from more than five-decade lows hit in April, but is still far below normal levels. The Transportation Security Administration screened an average of 616,868 people a day since March 1 through Sunday, down from close to 2.4 million a day during the same period last year.

United's CEO Scott Kirby has said he expects revenue to plateau at half of 2019 levels without a widely available vaccine.

Pfizer and BioNTech said Monday that their coronavirus vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 among those without evidence of prior infection.

Flying during the COVID-19 pandemic