Berkshire Hathaway sold shares of Delta and Southwest last week

Airline stocks are among worst performers amid pandemic

Buffett recently said he wouldn't sell off his stakes in airlines

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway reduced its stakes in two airlines as the industry faces an unprecedented decline in travel demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to SEC filings , Berkshire Hathaway sold nearly 13 million shares of Delta Airlines (DAL) last Wednesday for around $314 million, and 2.3 million shares of Southwest(LUV) for around $74 million on Thursday.

The sales were disclosed after U.S. airlines applied for payroll grants from the U.S. government as part of the Cares Act to keep employees on the payroll amid the crisis. Delta and other airlines have warned that they will have to do massive layoffs without government assistance as air travel has dwindled due to travel bans. Last week, major carriers reported they were only at 5-15% passenger capacity as most cities are on lockdown and all but essential travel has been forbidden.

Courtesy YCharts
Courtesy YCharts.

The sales of these airline stocks by Berkshire Hathaway comes just a few weeks after Warren Buffett told Yahoo Finance that he wouldn't be selling his company's stakes in Southwest and Delta. Berkshire Hathaway still owns 59 million shares of Delta and 51.3 million shares of Southwest Airlines following the sales, according to filings.

Delta, which reports earnings this Thursday, has already projected that its second quarter revenue would fall 90%. Southwest will report earnings on April 23.