Best Airline Stocks Right Now

Ready to gain altitude in the airline industry? Here are some of the hot airline stocks you can add to your portfolio.

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Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV)

Southwest Airlines has been the nation’s largest domestic air carrier since 2003. For 49 years of service, this Dallas-based airline has set the bar high with excellent customer service. In 2019, over 60,000 employees served more than 130 million passengers.

Total 2019 operating revenues were a record $22.4 billion — up 2.1% despite 1.6% fewer available seat miles (ASMs) as a result of the Boeing 737 MAX groundings.

Southwest Airlines recorded a net income of $2.3 billion or $4.27 per diluted share for its 47th consecutive year of profitability. The company also reported record shareholder returns of $2.4 billion.

The airline ended 2019 with service to 101 destinations and 747 aircrafts in its fleet. Southwest Airlines was named the Domestic Airline of the Year by the Airforwarders Association.

39.51 -0.04 (-0.1%)
Volume 11.26M Market Cap 23.29B
38.98 - 40.2
22.465 - 58.83
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United Airlines Holdings (NASDAQ: UAL)

United Airlines Holdings served more than 162 million customers through 1.7 million flights in 2019. It operates 791 mainline aircraft while its United Express carriers operate 581 regional aircrafts.

In fiscal 2019, the company reported $3 billion net income or $11.58 diluted earnings per share, an increase from $2.1 billion or $7.67 diluted earnings per share in 2018.

The passenger revenue also increased by $1.9 billion from 2018 after a 3.5% growth in available seat miles (ASMs). UAL repurchased 19.2 million shares for $1.6 billion and recorded U.S. Department of Transport on-time arrival rates of 77.9%.

33.86 0.29 (0.86%)
Volume 18.80M Market Cap 9.83B
32.83 - 34.02
17.8 - 95.16
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Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK)

Alaska Air Group operates 2 airlines — Horizon and Alaska. Horizon and Alaska have individual business plans, economic risks and competitive factors. Together with its regional airline partners, Alaska Air flies to 115 destinations with more than 1,300 daily departures through a vast network across the United States, Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica.

In 2019, the airline carried an all-time record of 47 million guests. It earned $769 million consolidated income compared to $437 million in the previous year.

The company also marked its 16th consecutive year of profitability on an adjusted basis. Alaska Air employed 24,134 personnel at the end of fiscal 2019.

Some of its biggest shareholders include The Vanguard Group Inc., T. Rowe Price Associates Inc., BlackRock Institutional Trust Company and PRIMECAP Management Company.

37.88 1.11 (3.02%)
Volume 2.89M Market Cap 4.64B
36.49 - 37.95
20.02 - 72.22
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SkyWest Airlines is the holding company for SkyWest Airlines and SkyWest Leasing. SkyWest Airlines’ fleet of 500 aircrafts connects passengers to 220 destinations and carried more than 43 million passengers in 2019.

The airline stock has a market cap of $1.66 billion and has an EPS of $3.32. It has high liquidity and trades over 348,000 shares per day. SkyWest generated revenue of $2.9 billion in 2019.

29.03 -0.13 (-0.45%)
Volume 48.25K Market Cap 1.46B
27.91 - 29.82
10.58 - 66.52
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Ryanair Holdings (NASDAQ: RYAAY)

Ryanair DAC is Europe’s largest airline group. It operates more than 2,500 daily flights from 79 bases. Ryanair connects over 200 destinations in 40 countries and its fleet consists of 470 aircrafts and 210 Boeing 737s.

The aviation stock has a market cap of $17 billion and an EPS of $6.47. It has high liquidity and trades over 439,000 shares per day. Ryanair generated revenue of $8.4 billion in 2019.

80.60 -1.09 (-1.33%)
Volume 26.03K Market Cap 17.56B
80.05 - 82.28
44.44 - 96.79
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Biggest Airline Stock Movers of the Day

Airline stocks could lose or gain significantly in regular and premarket trading sessions depending on earnings releases, airline partner updates and other market news.

The data provided below is intended for educational purposes only, we have included the session dates for your reference.

Premarket Airline Stocks
Symbol Last Price Change % Change Trade
MARPS 3.4 0.94 38.21% Trade
BLRX 1.995 0.515 34.79% Trade
TCDA 5.62 1.25 28.6% Trade
AIRI 1.3101 0.29 28.44% Trade
DSKE 6.5486 1.359 26.17% Trade
BBW 4.1711 0.851 25.63% Trade
ACHC 35.59 6.61 22.8% Trade
MICT 3.13 0.57 22.26% Trade
CASI 2.35 0.42 21.76% Trade
LNSR 9.81 1.65 20.22% Trade
Symbol Last Price Change % Change Trade
SNBP 2.92 -6.58 -69.27% Trade
DUOT 3.4634 -3.537 -50.53% Trade
AXGT 2.1245 -1.525 -41.8% Trade
BLCM 3.69 -2.21 -37.46% Trade
PBI 5.31 -2.11 -28.44% Trade
NTEC 2.28 -0.796 -25.88% Trade
NUZE 12.9 -4 -23.67% Trade
COLM 74.77 -21.5 -22.34% Trade
MVIS 1.73 -0.48 -21.72% Trade
TWTR 41.2501 -11.2 -21.36% Trade
Market Airline Stocks
Symbol Last Price Change % Change Trade
NTEC 2.97 2.816 1831.07% Trade
BLRX 2.26 0.78 52.7% Trade
SDPI 0.575 0.149 35% Trade
AIRI 1.37 0.35 34.31% Trade
EQ 7.07 1.07 17.83% Trade
PLT 21.9 2.89 15.2% Trade
DZSI 11.16 1.43 14.69% Trade
MGI 5.1 0.61 13.58% Trade
DSKE 5.89 0.7 13.48% Trade
TRUP 81.5 9.44 13.1% Trade
Symbol Last Price Change % Change Trade
BLCM 3.86 -2.04 -34.58% Trade
AXGT 2.58 -1.07 -29.32% Trade
RYI 6.05 -2.03 -25.13% Trade
MVIS 1.77 -0.44 -19.91% Trade
HEXO 0.588 -0.134 -18.53% Trade
NTWK 2.0004 -0.45 -18.36% Trade
UUU 2.84 -0.51 -15.23% Trade
TWTR 44.48 -7.97 -15.2% Trade
PSHG 0.42 -0.07 -14.29% Trade
PXLW 1.97 -0.31 -13.6% Trade
After Hours Airline Stocks
Symbol Last Price Change % Change Trade
ISIG 1.03 0.2 24.08% Trade
VHC 6.75 1.21 21.84% Trade
DNOW 4.63 0.55 13.48% Trade
VRNA 6.51 0.64 10.9% Trade
ATHE 1.37 0.13 10.48% Trade
NWGI 1.65 0.14 9.27% Trade
GTEC 1.95 0.14 7.73% Trade
GNCA 2.24 0.16 7.69% Trade
AEMD 1.44 0.1 7.46% Trade
XPL 0.45 0.03 7.14% Trade
Symbol Last Price Change % Change Trade
ORTX 3.58 -0.46 -11.39% Trade
BDR 1.17 -0.12 -9.31% Trade
PED 1.38 -0.13 -8.61% Trade
BIOX 5.555 -0.495 -8.19% Trade
NVUS 24.1 -2.08 -7.95% Trade
UUU 2.87 -0.24 -7.72% Trade
ESGC 1.78 -0.14 -7.3% Trade
NEXT 2.25 -0.17 -7.03% Trade
BLCM 3.45 -0.26 -7.01% Trade
CDEV 0.5801 -0.04 -6.4% Trade

Airline stocks are cyclical and previous downturns have resulted in multiple airline failures and bankruptcies. It’s the question everyone’s been asking: Is it safe to buy airline stocks now? Which ones are the best-run companies?

Benzinga takes a look at some of the best airline stocks so you know where in this industry you should put your money.

Overview: Airline Stocks

In short, U.S. airline stocks have been lousy investments after the industry was deregulated in the late 1970s. The deregulation allowed companies to fiercely compete for business. The federal rule changes resulted in a boom and bust pattern — major profits when times were good and liquidations or bankruptcies when the economy went south.

Companies like Trans World Airlines (TWA), Braniff International and Eastern Air Lines vanished during this era and investors took billions in losses. 

The early 2000s was a period of consolidation and restructuring. The number of airlines reduced and the remaining competed and secured the balance sheets of surviving companies. American Airlines Group merged with US Airways. Delta bought Northwest, and Southwest Airlines bought AirTran.

Today the airline industry helps propel $1.7 trillion in economic activity. 

The over 10 million jobs in the U.S. airlines now fall into 3 categories:

  • Regionals, which offer smaller-jet services to secondary markets under the brands of full-service companies.
  • Full-service companies, which fly internationally, serve multiple markets and have various cabin classes.
  • Discounters, which have fewer offerings and cover fewer destinations.

Best Online Brokers for Airline Stocks

You can buy airline stock through any online broker with access to the major stock exchanges. Powerful stock screeners, analysis and research tools are available for use by anyone who registers. 

You may apply custom filters to identify stocks that fit your investing goals. Most online brokerages will also offer commission-free trades. 

Here are Benzinga’s favorites to consider if you trade airline stocks.

Account Minimum
Get started securely through Webull’s website
Account Minimum
1 Minute Review

Webull, founded in 2017, is a mobile app-based brokerage that features commission-free stock and exchange-traded fund (ETF) trading. It’s regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Webull offers active traders technical indicators, economic calendars, ratings from research agencies, margin trading and short-selling. Webull’s trading platform is designed for intermediate and experienced traders, although beginning traders can also benefit.

Webull is widely considered one of the best Robinhood alternatives.

Best For
  • Active traders
  • Intermediate traders
  • Advanced traders
  • Commission-free trading in over 5,000 different stocks and ETFs
  • No account maintenance fees or software platform fees
  • No charges to open and maintain an account
  • Leverage of 4:1 on margin trades made the same day and leverage of 2:1 on trades held overnight
  • Intuitive trading platform with technical and fundamental analysis tools
  • Does not support trading in options, mutual funds, bonds or OTC stocks
Account Minimum
Get started securely through TradeStation’s website
Account Minimum
1 Minute Review

TradeStation is for advanced traders who need a comprehensive platform. The brokerage offers an impressive range of investable assets as frequent and professional traders appreciate its wide range of analysis tools. TradeStation’s app is also equally effective, offering full platform capabilities.

Best For
  • Advanced traders
  • Options and futures traders
  • Active stock traders
  • Comprehensive trading platform and professional-grade tools
  • Wide range of tradable securities
  • Fully-operational mobile app
  • Confusing pricing structure to leave new traders with a weak understanding of what they pay
  • Cluttered layout to make navigating TradeStation’s platform more difficult than it should be
$0 $6.95 for OTC Stocks
Account Minimum
Get started securely through TD Ameritrade’s website
$0 $6.95 for OTC Stocks
Account Minimum
1 Minute Review

This publicly listed discount broker, which is in existence for over four decades, is service-intensive, offering intuitive and powerful investment tools. Especially, with equity investing, a flat fee is charged, with the firm claiming that it charges no trade minimum, no data fees, and no platform fees. Though it is pricier than many other discount brokers, what tilts the scales in its favor is its well-rounded service offerings and the quality and value it offers its clients.

Best For
  • Novice investors
  • Retirement savers
  • Day traders
  • World-class trading platforms
  • Detailed research reports and Education Center
  • Assets ranging from stocks and ETFs to derivatives like futures and options
  • Thinkorswim can be overwhelming to inexperienced traders
  • Derivatives trading more costly than some competitors
  • Expensive margin rates

Features to Look for in an Airline Stock

You’ll want to ask yourself about unit revenue, stock liquidity and total debt ratio before you choose an airline stock. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Unit revenue generally describes revenue statistics adjusted for the amount of flying an airline does. Passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) is the most common unit revenue statistic. It is obtained by dividing airline revenue from ticket sales by the number of available seat miles (ASMs). 

Revenues from ticket sales typically rise and fall with air traffic. A higher PRASM is better because it means an airline squeezes more revenue from each unit of capacity.

Revenue per available seat mile (RASM) is an important evaluation metric and factors all sources of revenue. You should consider this for low-cost carriers that often rely on ancillary (non-ticket) revenue to drive sales. 

  • The stock’s liquidity refers to how quickly the shares of a stock can be sold or bought without significantly impacting the stock price. Airline stocks with low liquidity could be difficult to sell and result in huge losses if you can’t relinquish the shares when necessary.
  • Total debt ratio is a great way to understand a company’s financial structure. It compares a firm’s total liabilities versus its total assets. Unlike debt-equity ratio, total debt ratio also factors in short-term liabilities and assets. This ratio may help you assess whether a company will face financial difficulty in future. 

A firm with a huge debt ratio will probably incur higher interest payments. This will also reduce profits. A company may then experience difficulty raising capital since investors could see a higher risk of bankruptcy. A huge debt balance could be at risk of credit defaults if the market plummets.

Soar with Confidence in the Airline Industry

The future of the airline industry is still unclear. Some traders speculate further declines and want to use this opportunity to go short on airlines and airplane manufacturers. However, the worst may be behind us, creating an opportunity to buy airline stocks at a huge discount. 

Many airline stocks lost as much as 70% to 80%, so the risk-reward ratio is enticing should the stocks regain their previous price levels with the promise of federal relief in coronavirus aid. 

Do your homework and avoid companies with vulnerable operations and balance sheets. Travel demand is expected to rise, so there’s ample room to soar into the foreseeable future. 

And if you’re in the market for bargain stocks, take a look at our lists of stocks under $20, stocks under $10 and even stocks under $5

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