The industry is also enjoying greater ancillary revenue, or revenue from sources outside of passenger tickets, such as baggages, food, beverage, rentals and wifi, among others. Global ancillary revenue has increased to $31.5 billion in 2013, compared to $2.45 billion in 2007.
“Airline companies are in better financial condition than they have been in years,” Holmes said.
Along with the improved outlook for the industry, airline stocks look attractive in their own right. For instance, income-oriented investors may notice that airline stocks have seen improved dividend-yield growth – the Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index showed 1-year dividend yield growth of 88.2% for the year ended June, whereas the Dow Jones Transportation Index saw yield growth of 14.1%.
Additionally, the sector shows relatively cheap valuations. Airline stocks have a 7 times price-to-earnings ratio, whereas the broader transportation stocks have a 15 times ratio and the S&P 500 index shows 17 times P/E. JETS shows a 8.3 p/E, according to Morningstar data.
ETF investors can tap into the broad airline industry through the U.S. Global Jets ETF (NYSEArca: JETS), the only dedicated airline industry-related ETF on the market. JETS follows the U.S. Global Jets Index, which uses fundamental screens to select airline companies, with an emphasis on domestic carriers, along with global aircraft manufacturers and airport companies. Due to its indexing methodology, the top four companies American Airlines (NasdaqGS: AAL), United Continental (NYSE: UAL), Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) and Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) make up 49.6% of the fund’s overall portfolio.
Financial advisors who are interested in learning more about the airline industry can listen to the webcast here on demand.