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Coronavirus wipes $70 billion off global listed airlines

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Air China is pictured on a tail of an airplane parked at the aircraft builder's headquarters of Airbus in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, November 15, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

LONDON (Reuters) - The rapid spread of coronavirus has wiped almost a third - or $70 billion - off the world’s top 20 listed airlines and reshuffled global rankings, elevating Air China into third place behind U.S. rivals, an analysis by Reuters shows.

The airline sector has been hit hardest by the outbreak of coronavirus, with falling ticket demand and Italy in lockdown forcing carriers to cancel routes and slash costs to survive the mounting crisis.

With the investor sell-off accelerating, United Airlines UAL.O has lost its number three position in the global line-up to Air China 601111.SS.

The U.S. carrier's market capitalization has halved to $11.6 billion, the lowest since 2003, since the start of the year, leaving it also lagging behind Europe's low-cost carrier Ryanair RYA.I.

Air China has been relatively unscathed - its market cap was $15 billion on Tuesday, compared with $19 billion on Jan. 2.

The scale of the rout has been breathtaking.

Wizz Air, a budget carrier focused on central European routes, is now more highly valued than Air France-KLM, and the world’s most valuable airline, Delta Air, has seen more than $10 billion knocked off its value this year, taking its market cap to about $28 billion, the lowest since September 2016.

(Graphic: Global airlines by market cap - )

Reporting by Josephine Mason; Editing by Jan Harvey

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