Published on Monday, May 4, 2020

Billionaire investor sells all airline shares

American billionaire Warren Buffett has sold all his stakes in US airlines, saying it was the wrong decision to invest billions in the aviation industry.

Speaking at his company Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting, Buffett said the 'world had changed' because of coronavirus and the company had sold its stakes in the four largest US airlines.

Berkshire Hathaway began investing in aviation in 2016 after avoiding the industry for years and, by the end of 2019, held stakes of between 9-11% in Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, South West and United Airlines, according to company reports.

Last month, Berkshire Hathaway disclosed it had sold about 18% of its Delta stake and 4% of its Southwest shares.

Buffett explained his decision to ditch all shares: "We will not fund a company... where we think that it is going to chew up money in the future."

"It is a blow to have essentially your demand dry up... it is basically that we shut off air travel in this country,"

He said Berkshire had made the mistake of investing around $7bn (£5.5bn) or $8bn (£6.3bn) in the airlines, but added: "We did not take out anything like $7bn or $8bn and that was my mistake.

"I am the one who made the decision."

His comments came just hours after Berkshire Hathaway announced a record $50bn (£40bn) net first quarter loss.

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