How to Profit from the Record-Breaking 3 Billion Travelers to Fly This Year

airline sectorHave you noticed the cost of flying has become more expensive as the demand for travel rises in the airline sector? Rates have clearly been ratcheting higher. Not by much, but enough to drive up profits in what has been the high-flying airlines sector.

But this boost in market demand is not confined to America’s borders; rather, there has been an overall pick-up in global travel. Rising wealth in China, India, Asia, and Latin America combined has driven up the demand for airline travel and the associated services, such as hotels and restaurants.

The profit picture has turned upward. Airlines around the world are buying more planes. We are seeing a sort of renaissance in the airline sector, which is estimated to report revenues of $708 billion and profits of $16.4 billion in 2014, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). (Source: Frary, M., “Airlines to make $16.4 billion in 2014, says IATA,” September 24, 2013, Public Sector Travel web site, last accessed November 14, 2013.)

The IATA estimates 3.12 billion travelers will ride the air waves this year, representing the first time this figure has been in excess of three billion.

And with the price of oil and jet fuel stabilizing, we could see an expansion in margins for the airline sector.

The evidence of the strength in the airline sector is reflected in the chart below of the Dow Jones U.S. Airlines Index. Note the strong upside moves since the emergence of a bullish golden cross (as indicated by the oval surrounding the moving averages) at the beginning of this year. Also notice the strong relative strength and positive moving average convergence/divergence (MACD) indicators, based on my technical analysis.

Dow Jones US Airlines Index Chart

Chart courtesy of

In the low-cost segment of the airline sector, I like JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ/JBLU), an airline I frequently use for my travels.

JetBlue Airways is a discount air carrier serving markets in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Mexico; along with 10 countries in the Caribbean and Latin American region.

Jetblue Airways Corporation Chart

Chart courtesy of

Take a look at the chart for JetBlue Airways above. Notice the surge earlier this week after the company reported strong operating metrics. In October, JetBlue Airways reported a rise of more than seven percent in its key revenue passenger miles reading.

JetBlue has been performing as of more recent years. After a decline in revenues from 2008 to 2009, the airliner reported revenue growth in 2010 to 2012. The growth is estimated to continue at 8.7% to $5.41 billion this year and another 8.6% to $5.88 billion in 2014, according to Thomson Financial estimates.

In the large-cap segment of the airline sector, I continue to like United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NYSE/UAL), which unlike JetBlue Airways, is more of a play on the global airline sector. United Continental formed from the merger of Continental Airlines and United Airlines in 2010.

United Continental Holdings Chart

Chart courtesy of

Another way investors may be able to profit from the boon in travel could be the suppliers of parts to the airline sector. For a look at some of the key suppliers of parts, read “Aerospace: The Only Way Left to Play Global Growth.”