The expected re-opening of England’s borders to fully vaccinated travellers from the US and EU triggered a wave of buying, led by British Airways owner International Airlines Group as its shares jumped more than 4% or 7.4p to 182.7p in the FTSE 100 index.
Investors have been in a similar position before only to have their recovery hopes dashed, meaning the blue-chip stock still trades below the levels seen a month ago.
The prospect of more countries being added to the green list of destinations for UK travellers also boosted sentiment, even if these changes have come too late to make a difference to many summer holiday plans.
In the FTSE 250 index, easyJet continued its recent recovery by surging 5% or 39.2p to 888.6p, while Wizz Air was up 5% or 249p to 4,908p after becoming the first EU carrier to forecast a return to pre-pandemic capacity by August.
Luton-based Wizz said today it carried 90% of its pre-Covid level of passengers in July as demand recovers in continental Europe.
The airline optimism and falling number of Covid-19 cases encouraged a number of other re-opening stocks, the biggest being Upper Crust owner SSP after adding 17.4p to 270.1p.
The FTSE 250 index rose 188.55 to a near record of 23,066.42 as the UK-focused benchmark continues to outshine the FTSE 100 index, which edged 13.34 points higher to 7,009.41.
Packaging firm Smurfit Kappa was among the top flight risers, up 27p to 4,076p after the online shopping boom triggered an 8% rise in half-year profits. It is facing significant cost pressures, which the Dublin-based firm plans to recover through corrugated price increases.