U.S. Airline Stocks Slide as Crude Oil Reaches 30-Month High

United Continental Holdings Inc., American Airlines parent AMR Corp. and other U.S. carriers tumbled in U.S. trading as crude oil climbed above $112 for the first time since September 2008.

United fell $1.21, or 5.8 percent, to $19.79 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading and AMR slid 27 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $5.77. United led declines in the Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index of 12 carriers, which retreated 3.4 percent for a seventh straight day of declines.

“The bad news is that we’re now faced with another fuel crisis,” Gerard Arpey, chief executive officer of AMR, said today in Dallas. “To the extent that oil dampens economic growth, we are all very worried about what is happening in oil markets.”

Crude oil futures rose 2.3 percent to settle at $112.79, a 30-month high, amid skepticism that Libyan oil output would rebound when fighting ends. Crude futures are 32 percent higher than a year ago.

United, the world’s largest airline, burns $25,000 in fuel every minute across its fleet of 1,200 aircraft, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Smisek said at a Houston energy conference last month. The Chicago-based carrier plans to ground some of its older Boeing Co. 737-500 and 767-200ER jets to reduce fuel use, he said.

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