Jim Cramer tends to think of airlines as a group that trades together in lockstep; either they all thrive or all struggle together. But this earnings season has completely flipped that notion on its head.
As the market enters the third week of earnings season, all of the major U.S. based airlines have reported. Somehow Southwest Airlines is crushing it, while Delta is doing OK, and American Airlines and United Continental are in hot water.
"A rising tide lifts all ships, but once the tide goes out, that is when you find out who the real winners are. And in the airline space, Southwest is the undisputed champion," the "Mad Money" host said.
The curious thing about airline quarters is that they cannot be judged merely by headline numbers. The key metric that matters most are not revenues or earnings, it is something called PRASM: passenger revenue per available season mile.
PRASM is the crucial gauge of efficiency that measures how much money the airline has made from each seat on its flight.