Even with airlines implementing strict travel requirements amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the US Global Jets ETF (NYSEArca: JETS) is certainly taking off as a value play for investors taking advantage of downtrodden airlines. The fund crossed above $1 billion for the first time as of Tuesday, June 2.

JETS seeks to track the performance of the U.S. Global Jets Index, which is composed of the exchange-listed common stock (or depository receipts) of U.S. and international passenger airlines, aircraft manufacturers, airports, and terminal services companies across the globe.

The rise to $1 billion represents a 30-fold increase from the $33.18 million in AUM as of March 2. The smart-beta 2.0 ETF saw record daily trading volume of 12.6 million shares on May 27.

In the challenging weeks when airline stocks fell 50 percent due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions, JETS saw significant inflows from deep-value investors and institutional investors like hedge funds. These inflows have accelerated as the outlook for an effective COVID-19 vaccine has become more promising, pushing airline stocks higher.

“This is by far the most exciting thing to happen to JETS since its debut in 2015,” said Frank Holmes, CEO and chief investment officer. “Most fund groups probably wouldn’t have kept a product on the shelf for five years if it had under $100 million in assets, but we believed so strongly in JETS that we continued to offer it to investors. Our patience and commitment to keeping the ETF alive has been greatly rewarded.

“We’ve seen an explosion in the number of retail investors who hold JETS,” continues Mr. Holmes. “In the three months through June 3, the number of Robinhood clients investing in JETS rose from 386 at the beginning of March to more than 30,000, a remarkable 77-fold increase. This has made JETS one of the top 10 most popular ETFs on the Robinhood platform as of June 3. Investors also came from Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade. As of May 29, JETS saw 63 straight days of positive fund flows.”

Per a press release, a “recovery in commercial air travel may already be underway. The number of passengers screened daily in the U.S. by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has steadily been gaining momentum since carriers were first grounded in an effort to limit the spread of the pandemic. On June 1, as many as 353,261 people boarded commercial flights in the U.S., up more than 300 percent from a low of 87,534 people on April 14.”

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