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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Allegiant Travel Co, United Airlines and American Airline

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – March 15, 2021 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include: Spirit Airlines, Inc. (SAVE - Free Report) , Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV - Free Report) , Allegiant Travel Company (ALGT - Free Report) , United Airlines Holdings, Inc. (UAL - Free Report) and American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL - Free Report) .

Here are highlights from Friday’s Analyst Blog:

Pandemic Stimulus Lends Further Cushion to Airline Stocks

Although the coronavirus-induced weakness in air-travel demand crippled the stocks in the airline space, the same has an impressive run on the bourses so far this year. Evidently, the Zacks Airline industry has gained 19.2% so far this year, comfortably outperforming the S&P 500 Index’s 5.3% appreciation in the same time frame.

The upbeat price performance despite the persistence of the pandemic is primarily owing to the market availability of vaccines. To date, more than 50 million people have been vaccinated in the United States. Immunization drive is in full swing in other countries as well. This is a huge positive for the airline companies, which would be hoping that air-travel demand will improve this year from the horrendous lows experienced last year as more and more people take to the skies without the fear of being infected.

The recent uptick in air-travel demand can be gauged from the data provided by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Notably, the TSA reported that 1,034,514 and 1,151,420 passengers passed through the TSA checkpoints on Feb 11 and Feb 12 (the Thursday and Friday before the holiday weekend due to Presidents' Day and Valentine's Day), respectively.

This was the first time that the TSA has screened more than 1 million passengers on successive days since the beginning of the New Year (Jan 3 and Jan 4). The uptrend continued with 1,284,271 being screened on Mar 11. In a bid to take advantage of this uptick in air-travel demand (particularly on the leisure front), the likes of Spirit AirlinesSouthwest Airlines and Allegiant Travel Company announced plans to widen their network by adding routes.

Biden’s Stimulus Package: Another Tailwind

President Joe Biden yesterday signed the $1.9 trillion worth COVID-19 relief bill, also known as the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, into law. This massive stimulus package includes $14 billion for airlines and an additional $9 billion for airports and other operations.

The stimulus package protects airline jobs through Sep 30, 20201. Akin to the earlier packages, this time too airlines must not furlough workers through Sep 30 as a condition for receiving the aid. Owing to the successful passage of the latest stimulus package, United Airlines and American Airlines intimated 27,000 workers (13,000 at United Airlines and 14,000 at American Airlines) that the warnings about furloughs received earlier are no longer valid. Notably, the concerned employees were warned about potential job losses following the expiry of the current package on Mar 31.

That President Biden’s stimulus package became a reality can be gauged from the commentary of Doug Parker and Robert Isom (CEO and president, respectively, of the currently Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) American Airlines) that suggests that the warnings about furloughs are "happily canceled -- you can tear them up!"

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

What Lies Ahead?

Even though passenger revenues are likely to improve in the current year as more and more people opt for air travel after getting vaccinated, it is unlikely that the same will return to the pre-coronavirus levels in the near term.

This implies that the aviation space will continue facing the problem of overstaffing as recovery to the pre-pandemic era is going to take some more time. This means that continuous federal aid to protect jobs might be the need of the hour at least going forward.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit https://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.