An Easyjet plane takes off from Manchester Airport. Picture: Reuters

London/Paris – European budget airlines bore the brunt of Monday’s plunge in global stock markets as the arrival of the coronavirus in Italy pointed to a longer, deeper crisis than many have banked on.

EasyJet dropped 16.4% and Ryanair 13.5% as airlines were forced to reassess the fallout from the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus across Asia and beyond, with South Korea, Italy and Iran now struggling to contain outbreaks.

Although airlines have yet to suspend any Italian flights, the new outbreaks raised the spectre of serious upheaval extending into the lucrative summer tourism season on a day when European stocks suffered their biggest slump since mid-2016.

“Concerns are growing that COVID-19 continues to spread and will impact demand to and from other European countries,” Credit Suisse analysts said.

Ireland, meanwhile, advised citizens to avoid some destinations in Italy, a major leisure market.