Airline stocks tumble after Buffett bails on carriers

Airline shares plunged at the market open Monday before paring some of the losses. Triggering the sell-off: billionaire investor Warren Buffett disclosed that his company, Berkshire Hathaway, had sold its entire stake in the top four U.S. carriers last month.

Speaking at his company's annual meeting Saturday, he said, "The world has changed." The company had owned stakes of 10% or more at Delta, American, and Southwest, and 9% of United as of the end of last year according to Berkshire's annual report.

Travel restrictions and global lockdowns have slammed the airline industry, bringing demand to a virtual standstill. Airline stocks have nosedived by nearly three-fifths this year.

The skies will remain dark for some time. Airline executives have warned of a slow recovery even after the virus is contained, saying it may take years for demand to recover to last year's levels.