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Airline equities tumble amid travel ban

Shares across the UK’s largest airlines plummeted on Monday morning following the announcement of widespread travel bans to prevent the spread of the new Covid-19 variant.

Easyjet (LON:EZJ) saw its shares freefall a hefty 9.34%, while British Airways’ parent firm IAG (LON:IAG) reported an 8.89% drop, and Ryanair (LON:RYA) a 5.11% dive just after midday.

Jet2 (LON:JET2) shares were also down 4.90%, with Wizz Air (LON:WIZZ) shares sinking 4.01%.

While the situation is still rapidly developing, a number of countries across the European Union and beyond have chosen to close their borders to arrivals from the UK over fears of the newly-identified Covid-19 variant.

India has become the latest country to announce a travel ban, following Hong Kong, Canada, Switzerland and Germany. Norway, Belgium and the Irish Republic have so far suspended all flights from the UK. Austria is also expected to bring in a ban, while Bulgaria has suspended flights to and from the UK from midnight tonight.

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On Sunday evening, France shut its border with the UK for 48 hours, meaning no lorries or ferries will be able to set off from the port of Dover. Queues of freight lorries began to build up in the early hours of the morning.

The French government said on Monday that it will establish a protocol “to ensure movement from the UK can resume”.

European leaders are currently holding an emergency meeting in Brussels to discuss the a co-ordinated response.

In a Twitter post by the French Embassy in the UK, French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said: “In the next few hours, at European level, we’re going to establish a solid health protocol to ensure that movement from the UK can resume”.

He added that the “priority” was to “protect our nationals and our fellow citizens”.

The news follows a tough week for airlines, after London and the South-East of the UK were put into Tier 4 restrictions set to last over the Christmas period and likely into the New Year, disrupting thousands of plans to spend the holidays with families scattered across the country.

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