Airline and travel companies are rolling out Cyber Monday promotions amid fresh concerns about the impact the new omicron strain of Covid will have on the industry.
The special deals are being offered to entice travelers and potentially prop up share prices in a sector that has been hit hard since the onset of the pandemic 20 months ago.
Southwest Airlines (LUV) – Get Southwest Airlines Co. Report, for instance, is offering a Cyber Monday sale with flights as low as $39 one way, while Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) – Get Royal Caribbean Group Report has a promotion of up to $550 off select cruises and 30% off for all guests that come along. Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) – Get Carnival Corporation Report is offering up to 40% off its cruise rates with reduced deposits and room upgrades as part of its Cyber Monday sale.
These and other industry offers come after many travel and related stocks plunged on Friday, along with a broader market selloff, after news that another Covid variant was detected in South Africa.
Many of those travel names rebounded in early trading on Monday with headlines suggesting the Covid variant may not be as severe as previous strains.
However, the Associated Press reported late Monday that the World Health Organization (WHO) says the global risk from the omicron variant of the coronavirus is “very high” based on early evidence, warning of the possibility of future surges with “severe consequences.”
Shares of many travel and airline companies didn’t immediately react to the WHO news. Many sector stocks have been clawing their way back from the steep drop suffered at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Take Southwest, which was trading just under $65 per share in April – above its pre-pandemic level around $56 – but has steadily declined since and currently trades around $44.
Royal Caribbean, which was trading around $135 in January 2020, fell below $25 in March last year and was trading just shy of $100 in May. The stock dropped about 13% cent on Friday but gained 2.81% Monday to end at $69.89.
Booking companies like Priceline, owned by online travel reservation company Booking Holdings (BKNG) – Get Booking Holdings Inc. Report, has been offering “flash” throughout the holiday weekend, while Airbnb (ABNB) – Get Airbnb, Inc. Class A Report is offering digital gift cards, which can be delivered via email or text, in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, Italy, and France.
Booking Holdings shares hit a high of $2,648 on Nov. 9, but shares are down about 10% in the past monthAirbnb shares, meantime, are trading around $179, well off their record of $219.94 since going public nearly a year ago.