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Alaska Air Group (ALK) March Traffic Up on High Demand

Alaska Air Group, Inc. ALK posted a significant rise in air traffic in the month of March. Traffic – measured in revenue passenger miles (RPMs) – came in at 3.17 billion, up 9.2% from 2.9 billion recorded a year ago.

On a year-over-year basis, consolidated capacity (or available seat miles/ASMs) rose 9.2% to 3.7 billion. Meanwhile, the load factor or percentage of seats filled by passengers increased to 86.2% from 86.1% recorded in Mar 2015.

At the end of the first three months of 2016, Alaska Air Group generated RPMs of 8.57 billion (up 11% year over year) and ASMs of 10.45 billion (up 12.9% year over year). Load factor stood at 82% against 83.4% last March.

We believe that increased demand for air travel coupled with continuous expansion of routes and enhanced customer satisfaction have supported the impressive operating results. Also, passenger count in March and at the end of three months period grew 6.6% and 7.1%, respectively.

According to an estimation made by Airlines for America (“A4A”) – the trade organization for leading U.S. airlines – it is going to be the busiest spring ever for U.S. carriers. This is a major plus for airlines like Alaska Air Group.

Meanwhile, Alaska Air Group outbid JetBlue Airways JBLU over the purchase of Virgin America for $4 billion, including debt. The transaction – expected to be completed by Jan 2, 2017 – has already been approved by the board of directors of both the companies while the sanction from Virgin America’s shareholders and regulators is awaited.

The deal, if approved, will allow Alaska Air Group to surpass JetBlue and become the fifth largest U.S. airline in terms of overall traffic. Additionally, the proposed acquisition will create a West Coast powerhouse with a big presence in nearly every major market around the coast.

Stocks to Consider

Alaska Air Group currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stocks include Deutsche Lufthansa Aktiengesellschaft DLAKY and China Eastern Airlines Corp. Ltd. CEA. Both Deutsche Lufthansa and China Eastern sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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JETBLUE AIRWAYS (JBLU): Free Stock Analysis Report
CHINA EASTN-ADR (CEA): Free Stock Analysis Report
LUFTHANSA -ADR (DLAKY): Free Stock Analysis Report
ALASKA AIR GRP (ALK): Free Stock Analysis Report
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