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Berkshire sells entire stakes in U.S airlines: Buffett

The conglomerate had held sizeable positions in the airlines, including an 11% stake in Delta Air Lines, 10% of American Airlines Co, 10% of Southwest Airlines Co and 9% of United Airlines at the end of 2019, according to its annual report and company filings.

The conglomerate was one of the largest individual holders in the four airlines and in 2016 disclosed it had begun investing in the four carriers after avoiding the sector for years.

Airline stocks have been hard hit by the near collapse U.S. travel demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. airlines are cutting hundreds of thousands of flights, parking thousands of planes as U.S. travel demand has fallen by about 95% and there is no clear timetable for passengers to return to flights at pre-crisis levels.

Buffett said the airline industry’s outlook rapidly changed.

“The world changed for Airlines and I wish them well, but it’s one of the businesses we have, we have businesses we own directly that are gonna be hurt significantly. The virus will cost Berkshire money,” Buffett said at the company’s annual meeting which was livestreamed. “In that situation, we felt we were poor in terms of what actually happened to those airline businesses.”

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