As big carriers deliver chronic delays, regional airlines may be the biggest beneficiaries this holiday season.
CNBC’s Phil LeBeau said it all comes down to one word: congestion. People are increasingly fed up with air travel and are starting to turn to airlines that fly into regional airports. For instance, instead of flying into the ultra-congested Miami International Airport, many travelers are finding it less of a headache to fly into Ft. Lauderdale. The flights might be a bit more expensive or less convenient to the final destination – but it’s a price people finally look like they are willing to pay to avoid problems in major airports with the major airlines, as evidenced by the fact that regional airports are almost all up in yearly traffic, according to LeBeau.
What that means is airlines that fly to smaller airports – namely regional carriers – could be poised to reap some of the benefits. No airline is immunized from the volatility in jet fuel prices, but carriers like Midwest (MEH) or Allegiant (ALGT) that cater to specialized locations and higher-end business travelers are able to hedge somewhat against fuel costs.
The big airlines are still focused on international growth, LeBeau said. They’ve decided it’s the only way to insulate themselves from the domestic troubles that plague the industry.
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Trader disclosure: On Nov. 20, 2007, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders: Macke Owns (YHOO), (EMC); Najarian Owns (AMTD) Options; (GOOG) Options; (YHOO) Options; Finerman's Firm And Finerman Own (GS), (KFT); Finerman's Firm Owns (SKS), (TSO), (WMT), (LTD), (CROX), Finerman's Firm Owns (MSFT) Options; Finerman's Firm Is Short (SPY), (IWM), (IYR), (IJR), (MDY), (LEN); Finerman's Firm Is Short (LEH) And Owns (LEH) Puts; Finerman's Firm Owns (HD) And (HD) Puts, Finerman Owns (HD); Finerman's Firm Owns S&P 500 Puts; Finerman's Firm Owns Russell 2000 Puts