Share prices of European travel and leisure stocks rose sharply on Tuesday (26 May) on renewed hopes that lockdown restrictions across the region would be shortly eased.
Reports surfaced early in the week that Germany was planning to end travel warnings for tourist trips to 31 European countries, including the UK, from 15 June, the coronavirus situation permitting. This followed news that Spain plans to reopen its borders to tourists – without quarantine measures – from July, while Greece lifted its restrictions on cafes and restaurants from Monday (25 May) and allowed travel to the Greek Islands to resume ahead of the official tourist season beginning in June.
In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson signalled plans to allow non-essential retail businesses, including clothes and electronics shops, to reopen from 15 June, subject to continued progress in containing the coronavirus and strict social distancing processes being put in place.
Companies including IAG – the owner of British Airways and Iberia airlines – travel company TUI, budget airline easyJet, InterContinental Hotels and cruise operator Carnival all saw their share prices move quickly higher on the back of increasing clarity over the easing of restrictions.
The airline sector was further boosted by news that the German government had granted a €9bn rescue package for flagship airline Lufthansa in return for a 20% stake in the business. Although it was not all good news, as Latam Airlines, the largest airline in Latin America, filed for bankruptcy protection in New York to give it time to find a way to pay creditors and turn the business around.