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Airline stocks lose altitude on fresh Ebola fears

October 15, 2014, 4:53 PM UTC
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Kyle Bean for Fortune

U.S. airline stocks extended their descent on Wednesday as reports surfaced that a woman infected with the Ebola virus had flown on a Frontier Airlines flight earlier this week.

The sector has suffered notable declines since Sept. 30, the day a Liberian man was diagnosed with the disease after he flew to the United States from West Africa. Since then, the CDC has confirmed that two healthcare workers in Texas who provided care for the patient have tested positive for Ebola.

Those concerns have led some investors to worry about how airline traffic may be affected if consumers start to worry about flying to Dallas, or other parts of the country if the disease were to spread. Already, officials have asked 132 people who flew with the infected Dallas health-care worker on a Frontier Airlines flight from Cleveland to Dallas to contact the Centers for Disease Control.

All major airline stocks have posted a decline from Sept. 30 through Oct. 14, according to FactSet Research. Spirit Airlines (SAVE) has posted the largest drop, with shares falling nearly 20% over that time period. Southwest Airlines (LUV) shares have skidded 11%, while shares of Delta Air (DAL) are down 9.3%. United Continental (UAL) fell 7.7% and Republic Airways (RJET) dropped 4%.

A majority of airlines, including Southwest, Delta and United Continental, are performing worse than the Dow Jones industrial average, which over that period reported a 4.4% drop.

Those declines continued on Wednesday, with nearly all airline stocks falling along with the broader market.