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Economic fears shave US$4b off American Airlines' market value

New York

THE growing pessimism about global economic growth has found an unlikely victim in American Airlines Group Inc.

The US carrier lost nearly one third of its market value, or about US$4.3 billion, over the past 30 trading days through Tuesday, amid concerns about a widespread slowdown, as well as the company's myriad labour and operational challenges.

Growth in the airline industry is typically linked strongly to the economy, with the group usually moving in tandem with gross domestic product data. Apart from the macro concerns, the impact of the Boeing crisis that prompted the grounding of all 737 Max jets after two fatal crashes and lingering protests in Hong Kong have also weighed on the carriers this year.

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Market voices on:

"This represents American's second such post-merger decline, coming five years after the Ebola 'crisis'," JPMorgan analyst Jamie Baker wrote in a note to clients, adding that the decline was surprising. The analyst blamed a combination of economic anxiety, concern over the company's debt burden and labour troubles for the rout.

Mr Baker also noted that since 1993, the market has consistently been "proven mistaken when delivering this level of shellacking to Continental/United, while those brave enough to step in have consistently been rewarded." United and Continental merged in 2010, while American combined with US Airways in 2013.

While American was pummelled, its peers held up pretty well. When American's stock dropped 29 per cent over the 30-trading day period, United Airlines dropped 13 per cent, Delta Air Lines fell 11 per cent and Southwest Airlines declined 5.2 per cent. BLOOMBERG