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Expand chart
Reproduced from CivicScience; Chart: Axios Visuals

U.S. airline shares have largely traded in lockstep for most of this year, but diverging attitudes on layoffs, compensation and social distancing could create more stock price separation between the four largest airlines.

Driving the news: During its latest earnings call Delta CEO Ed Bastian said the airline will be extending its policy of leaving middle seats open through at least Sept. 30, touting a new campaign that Delta is "setting the standard for safer travel.''

  • "The space on board the plane, the blocked middle seats, has gone to the No. 1 reason why customers are choosing Delta,'' Bastian said on the earnings call.
  • Several airlines, including Southwest, JetBlue and Alaska, are limiting the number of passengers per flight, but not all are explicitly blocking off middle seats.

By the numbers: New data from CivicScience show 80% of all U.S. adults surveyed think airlines should not be booking flights to full capacity as American and United recently announced they will do.

  • In May, American's official policy was only that it would "try" not to book 50% of middle seats "when possible." Its stock surged in early June, but has sold off more than its peers since.
  • American and United now have the worst stock performance year to date among the big four, down 58.5% and 61.5%, respectively.
  • Southwest's stock is down 36.8% and Delta's is 50.8% lower.

Watch this space: CivicScience also found more than 60% of Americans don't plan to fly in the next six months.

What's next: American and United are poised to lay off 25,000 and 36,000 employees, respectively, after Sept. 30 when a deadline imposed by their pact with the government for accepting billions in taxpayer dollars expires.

  • Delta has said it may not impose layoffs after 20% of its workforce agreed to early retirement and is asking pilots to take a 15% pay cut.
  • There are no reports that Southwest, which has never laid off or furloughed an employee, has alerted any employees of possible layoffs yet.

Go deeper

Hurricane Delta makes landfall in Louisiana as a "life-threatening" Category 2 storm

Photo: NOAA

Hurricane Delta made landfall near Creole, La., Friday evening as a Category 2 storm, the National Hurricane Center said.

State of play: Delta is lashing parts of Louisiana's southern coastline with "damaging winds" and a "life-threatening storm surge," the NHC added.

Study: Fear of debt keeps Latinos out of college

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Fear of never being able to pay off school loans is keeping many young Latinos in the U.S. from going to college or completing a degree, according to a report published in September.

State of play: Latinos tend to have more difficulty repaying school debt than white student borrowers, according to Federal Reserve data, at the same time that they need more loans in order to afford tuition.

21 mins ago - World

Scoop: Biden administration objects to Israeli settlements plan

Israeli PM Naftali Bennett (L) meets with Secretary of State Tony Blinken. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool/AFP via Getty

The Biden administration has privately protested to the Israeli government over its plan to approve the planning and construction of more than 3,000 new housing units in the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, sources briefed on the issue tell me.

Why it matters: The approvals for new homes in the settlements will be the first since President Biden assumed office, and come after Biden and his top aides personally pressed Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to restrain settlement activity and decrease the number of new housing units.