United Airlines Hasn't Seen Ticket Sales Suffer From Passenger-dragging Incident Yet, Analyst Says

By Tomi KilgoreMarketsMarketWatch Pulse

Shares of United Continental Holdings Inc. slipped in morning trade Thursday, but outperformed the broader airline sector, as there is still no evidence that the viral video of the passenger being dragged off a plane has hurt United Airlines' business. Cascend Securities Chief Strategist Eric Ross said that while there was a substantial increase in interest in United ticket sales from a "spectator" perspective, he has not yet seen an impact on sales after the incident compared with other airlines. "Our data isn't conclusive yet as to whether sales have declined, or whether this is just a PR nightmare on a very bad flight crew decision," Ross wrote in an emailed note to MarketWatch. "We do expect to see a purchase decline of some level for [United] tickets but the data doesn't imply how bad it could or could not actually be." The stock was up less than 0.1% in morning trade, while shares of Delta Air Lines Inc. slumped 2.3%, of American Airlines Group Inc. dropped 0.7%, of Southwest Airlines Co. slid 1.4% and of JetBlue Airways Corp. shed 1.9%. United's stock has lost 1.4% this week in the aftermath of the incident over the weekend, while the NYSE Arca Airline Index has gained 0.6%.

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