Jamie Baker thinks airline stocks are ready to take off.
"We do see significant potential upside from here," the JP Morgan senior airline analyst told CNBC.
He's not discouraged by the impact of soaring fuel prices on airline stocks -- nor is he discouraged by a shaky economy.
"Believe it or not, they are best purchased at the onset of a recession," he said.
Baker sees potential gains from consolidation, with Delta Air Lines currently in merger talks with both United Airlines and Northwest Airlines, but he says consolidation is not the only motive for buyers.
"US Airways stands to benefit, even though it's not likely to play a role at the M&A table," he said.
- Industry News: Continental Posts Q4 Profit as Fares Rise
And it's not just the major airlines he sees as positioned to do well.
"Remember, consolidation is not being pursued to rationalize international service to China," he said. "It is a domestic event, so shareholders ought to be long domestic exposure, if they're going to exploit M&A. Carriers like Southwest Airlinesand Airtran may well earn more money in 2009, but without taking on any incremental risk."
Delta, Northwest, Southwest and US Airways are investment banking clients of Baker's firm; the firm also owns shares of US Airways.