(Bloomberg) -- Airline shares tumbled on Friday after the U.K. instituted a temporary ban on flights from South Africa and Germany prepared to restrict entry along with other European Union members.

Israel and Singapore have also curbed access from South Africa and neighboring nations to fight an emerging strain of coronavirus that has alarmed health officials across the world. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed an “emergency brake” on air travel from South Africa, which allows EU member countries to act quickly to limit the risks from emerging virus variants. 

British Airways parent IAG SA sank 21%, while Deutsche Lufthansa AG fell 14%. Ryanair Holdings Plc, Air France-KLM and other European airlines registered drops of similar magnitude.

The border clampdowns mark a further blow to an airline industry whose recovery has been stalled this month by a fourth wave of coronavirus cases that’s triggered fresh lockdowns in Europe.  

Shares of airlines in the Bloomberg EMEA Airlines Index have fallen 18% in November, as Austria and other European Union countries limit movement. Ryanair Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said this week that travelers’ confidence is sure to be undermined through the year-end holidays.

“This is the worst early Christmas present that the airline industry could think of,” said Nick Cunningham, an analyst at Agency Partners in London. “To quote Yogi Berra, this is déjà vu all over again.”

Stunted Recovery

Airlines, one of the industries hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, have been slowly building back capacity since June, with a focus on shorter regional flights as countries started to lift border restrictions. Long-distance travel got a boost when the U.S. reopened its borders to European visitors and others this month. 

Carriers had also started to bring back flights to countries like South Africa, a popular winter sun destination. British Airways was set to restart daily services to Johannesburg by mid-December, while ramping up flights to Cape Town. 

“We’re working through plans for our customers and colleagues currently in South Africa and those due to travel from the UK in the coming days,” British Airways, a unit of IAG SA, said in an emailed statement.

Neighboring Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe were also placed on to the so-called red list, with a two-day flight ban starting midday Friday. After Sunday, arriving travelers are subject to an expensive 10-day hotel quarantine.

The measures mark the biggest change in the U.K.’s Covid travel rules since the so-called traffic light system was overhauled earlier in the autumn to ease border crossings. 

Between 500 and 700 people daily arrive in the U.K. via South Africa on flights, a number that would normally be expected to increase in the next four to six weeks due to seasonal travel.

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