Airlines and transport firms saw shares plunge into the red as European stock markets were sent reeling after the suspected terrorist bomb attacks in Brussels.
British Airways owner International Airlines Group and easyJet were among those hardest hit on London’s blue chip share index, down by as much as 5%, while Air France-KLM was also down more than 3% in Paris.
The wider FTSE 100 Index was more than 50 points lower at one stage, with falls of around 1% also seen on the Dax in Germany and France’s Cac 40.
Travel stocks and bus and rail groups were also leading the sell-off.
Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct, said: “The dark cloud of terrorism appears to have returned to haunt European markets.”
He added: “Having seen what happened to tourism in Paris after last year’s attacks, the sector will be anticipating tougher times ahead.”
Thomas Cook dropped more than 6% in the FTSE 250 Index after its share woes were compounded by a gloomy update on trading as it said bookings were still being impacted in the wake of the Paris attacks.
Blue chip rival TUI, which owns Thomson, was down 4%, while cruise giant Carnival dropped 3%.
Stagecoach and FirstGroup were among transport firms that joined them in the red, with share falls of 2%.
The tourism and airline sectors have suffered since last November’s atrocities in Paris and recent terror attacks in Tunisia and Turkey.
Travel firms have also cancelled holiday programmes to the popular Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh following the downing of a Russian passenger plane last year.
Transport groups have noted that intercity coach and rail services saw dampened demand as visitors shunned big cities in the immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks.