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Why the Qantas Airways Limited share price is getting hammered

Shares of Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) have been hammered since Friday’s Brexit decision and now trade at their lowest levels since February 2015.

The shares have fallen more than 4.5% today and by nearly 12% over the past three days alone.

Clearly, investors are concerned that recent events may have a major impact on consumer confidence and travel plans for people who are considering trips to and from the UK and Europe.

The Sydney to London route is one of the most lucrative and popular for the airline and Qantas has invested heavily in upgrading its facilities at Heathrow to attract more travellers.

Qantas has recognised the potential disruption from Brexit and is moving to attract more travellers to the region. The company announced overnight that it would offer passengers triple Qantas Frequent Flyer points on economy class flights to London for certain dates.

This is an added bonus for Australian travellers considering the 8% plunge in the pound against the Australian dollar would have already made the prospect of travelling to the UK more attractive.

The flipside to the weaker pound is that overseas travellers from the UK will find Australia a far less attractive destination to travel to and this will make filling Qantas’ planes more difficult.

Although it is far too early to determine the exact impact of Brexit on the travel sector, investors are concerned about the impact it could have on consumer sentiment in general.

Qantas and Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd (ASX: FLT) have complained of weaker-than-expected demand domestically and there is the possibility that the volatility caused by recent events could further dampen sentiment and demand for non-essential travel.

Interestingly, crude oil prices have taken a beating since Friday’s decision and this would usually be considered a huge bonus for Qantas. Surprisingly, Qantas’ share price has not benefited at all from the oil price decline and has instead followed the oil price down.

So is Qantas a buy?

There is no doubt that Qantas shares appear cheap on traditional valuation metrics, but as recent events have highlighted the shares can be heavily influenced by a number of factors outside of its control.

As a result, I think longer term investors need to be sceptical when it comes to Qantas and it may be best to leave it for short term momentum traders who don’t really take into account the underlying fundamentals of the business.

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Motley Fool contributor Christopher Georges has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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