Major airline stocks are surging on hopes that a coronavirus relief package is coming soon

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Airline stocks are skyrocketing on the hopes that a coronavirus relief package will soon be approved, giving aid to industries hit hardest by the impact of the outbreak.

Shares of United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and Southwest Airlines all posted double-digit gains Tuesday, reversing earlier losses driven by the coronavirus pandemic. As the virus and cases of COVID-19, the illness it causes, have spread, the airline industry has been decimated as companies and governments cease non-essential travel and consumers cancel trips to practice social distancing.

Here’s how much each stock has gained at 10:50 a.m. in New York, in order of biggest gain:

  • American Airlines (AAL):+ 31%
  • United Airlines (UAL): +23%
  • Delta Air Lines (DAL): +20%
  • Southwest Airlines (LUV): +11%

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As coronavirus-induced panic has gripped markets and dampened consumer confidence, airline stocks have taken a huge hit. The big-four US airlines have shed as much as 50% of their market values in recent weeks as travel has ground to a near-halt.

About a week ago, Airlines for America – a trade group made up of airlines including United, American, and Delta – asked for a roughly $54 billion bailout from the government to help shield the carriers as the coronavirus crisis continues.

Still, the industry has faced criticism from experts and government officials. In the last decade, the major airlines have used 96% of cash flows on stock buybacks to prop up share prices and return value to shareholders, according to Bloomberg.

Under the latest bailout proposal from the House of Representatives, airlines will be prohibited from buying back stock or issuing dividends if they accept government funds. The bill, introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a counter to the GOP’s Senate bill, still calls for significant relief for airlines and their employees.

On Tuesday, Pelosi said on a call with CNBC that there is “real optimism” that a deal could soon be reached on the coronavirus stimulus package and that it could come in the next few hours.