Berkshire sells entire stakes in U.S. airlines: Buffett

Canada

FILE PHOTO: Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett seen at the annual Berkshire shareholder shopping day in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 3, 2019. REUTERS/Scott Morgan/File Photo

(Reuters) – Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) has sold its entire stakes in the four largest U.S. airlines, Chairman Warren Buffett said Saturday at the company’s annual meeting.

The conglomerate held sizeable positions in the airlines, including an 11% stake in Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) and about 9% stakes in both United Airlines (UAL.O) and Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N) at the end of 2019, according to its annual report.

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

Buffett said Berkshire had invested around $7 billion or $8 billion amassing stakes in the four airlines including American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O).

“We did not take out anything like $7 or $8 billion and that was my mistake,” Buffett said at the company’s annual meeting which was livestreamed. “I am the one who made the decision.”

The airlines did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the sales.

“It is a blow to have essentially your demand dry up…. It is basically that we shut off air travel in this country,” Buffett added.

Reporting by David Shepardson and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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