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    The low cost airline stock to watch for: Frontier Holdings

    Victor Lei — Head of Research

    April 7, 2021

    April 7, 2021

    What are you willing to give up to travel? According to a survey from Trivago, here’s what others are: 25% will give up their savings, ~20% will give up their partner and ~40 will give up sex for a year.

    For Frontier Holdings, the ultra-low-cost airlines, that’s good news. Frontier went public on April 1 and the company is placing big bets that you’re begging to travel soon.

    The new Frontier — lower cost, less legroom and more complaints

    Frontier was once a public company that filed for bankruptcy during the 2008 financial crisis. A new owner purchased Frontier in 2013 and transformed it into an ultra-low-cost carrier with a focus on cutting costs.

    This time around, a much smaller Frontier survived the pandemic better than the 48 airlines that failed in 2020. But the outlook for airlines is getting better.

    • In the first week of April, US travel numbers recovered to 65% of their pre-COVID levels, compared to 40% in Jan. 2021.
    • On Apr 2, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated travelers aren’t required to quarantine or get tested.

    The smaller the better

    Low-cost airlines flying domestic routes could see a faster recovery than bigger carriers.

    • International flights — primarily operated by bigger airlines, is expected to recover slower than domestic travel
    • Business travel — isn’t expected to recover until 2025 while leisure travel could recover faster.

    Several low-cost carriers popped up in the past few months and there’s a reason why. According to the CFO of Flyr:

    • Leasing cost of planes are at least half of what they were pre-COVID
    • Oversupply of pilots and crews from COVID layoffs provides access to talent

    Frontier, who focuses mainly on domestic travel, is taking advantage of the low-cost expenditures to grow — with an aggressive plan of launching 19 new routes and 3 new cities in 2021.

    For investors… Watch these airlines but also these risks…

    For low-cost carriers, every dollar counts. Fuel is the second-largest expense for airlines and rising oil prices, which shot up in the past few months, could hurt their profitability.

    But the biggest path to recovery is more passengers. With Biden opening vaccine availability to all US adults by April 19, summer travel could significantly ramp up.

    Ultra-low-cost US carriers to watch: Spirit Airlines ($SAVE), Allegiant Travel Company ($ALGT), Sun Country Airlines ($SNCY)

    Learn more: Why are airlines so unprofitable?

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