Skip to main content

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said he's sworn off investing in airline stocks since his $358-million (U.S.) "mistake" in US Airways Group Inc.

"Now if I get the urge to invest in airlines, I call an 800 number, and I say: 'Hello, my name is Warren, and I'm an air-o-holic,' " he said.

The 70-year-old chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said in 1996 that the deal was a "mistake." Berkshire acquired the stake in the form of preferred stock for $358-million in 1989. It has since sold the stake, later converted to common shares, without saying whether it made money.

Mr. Buffett told journalists aboard a London-to-Paris flight on Tuesday that in the last 20 years, 130 U.S. airlines have gone broke. "It's unbelievable," he said, offering to dig out a list of the failed companies he keeps back in his office in Omaha, Neb., to show doubters.

"The airline business from the time of Wilbur and Orville Wright through 1991 made zero money, net," he said. "If capitalists had been present at Kitty Hawk when the Wright brothers' plane first took off, they should have shot it down."

Mr. Buffett invited journalists on the trip aboard a Boeing business jet to discuss Executive Jet Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company that sells partial shares in business planes.

Report an error

Editorial code of conduct

Tickers mentioned in this story