I'd always hated airline stocks, but no more: pro

Stock picker Martin Sass told CNBC on Tuesday he's changed his mind about airline stocks.

In a "Squawk Box" interview, the chairman and CEO of M.D. Sass said that one of his recent investment themes is "companies benefiting from consolidation."

"One is an area I've hated for my whole career until recently, which is the airlines," he said. "Airlines never made any money. [But] I think they are in a seminal change to profitability, finally."

The drivers are shrinking capacity and cost reductions over the past decade, said Sass, whose firm has $8.5 billion under management.

Of all the airline stocks, he said, US Airways is his play because its merger with American Airlines will make it the No. 1 airline in the United States.

"I'd still buy it" at these levels, Sass said.

By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_SquawkCNBC. CNBC's Camilla Lyngsby contributed to this report.