Airline stocks sink as analyst says United’s move to remove change fees likely irked its rivals

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Shares of airline companies traded broadly lower Monday, as the group appeared not to take too kindly to United Airlines Holdings Inc.’s move to permanently remove scheduling change fees. The U.S. Global Jets ETF slumped 2.4% in afternoon trading, while the three biggest decliners within the Dow Jones Transportation Average were air carrier stocks. United before the open that it was getting rid of the change fees on all U.S. flights, effectively immediately, and said starting Jan. 1, standby flights for customers departing the day of their travel will be free. Analyst Robert Stallard at Vertical Research Partners said United’s move could end up being the U.S. airline equivalent of crossing the Rubicon. “While passengers can rejoice, we’re not sure if United’s rivals will be quite so enamored by this move,” Stallard wrote in a note to clients. United’s stock shed 3.2%. Among rivals within the Dow transports, shares of Alaska Air Group Inc. lost 3.7%, JetBlue Airways Corp. sank 3.4%, American Airlines Group Inc. dropped 3.4%, Delta Air Lines Inc. declined 2.9% and Southwest Airlines Co. slid 2.5%. The Dow transports fell 1.1%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 206 points, or 0.7%.
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