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Berkshire Hathaway sells all U.S. airline shares

Christian Fernsby |
Warren Buffett says his company Berkshire Hathaway has sold all of its shares in the four largest U.S. airlines.

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Topics: BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY   

Speaking at the annual shareholders' meeting, Buffett said "the world has changed" because of the coronavirus.

He then said he had been wrong to invest in the airline industry.

Buffett's comments came just hours after Berkshire Hathaway announced a record $US50 billion ($NZ82.4b) net first quarter loss, Reuters news agency reports.

The conglomerate had an 11 percent stake in Delta Air Lines, 10 percent of American Airlines, 10 percent of Southwest Airlines, and 9 percent of United Airlines, according to its annual report and company filings.

Buffett told the meeting, which was held virtually: "We made that decision in terms of the airline business. We took money out of the business basically even at a substantial loss.

"We will not fund a company ... where we think that it is going to chew up money in the future."

Buffett said he had been considering investing in additional airlines before the pandemic hit.

"It is a blow to have, essentially, your demand dry up," he said. "It is basically that we shut off air travel in this country."

Illustrating his remarks with dozens of plain black-and-white slides, Buffett called dealing with the pandemic "quite an experiment" that had an "extraordinarily wide" range of possible economic outcomes.


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