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How Southwest, Spirit and Other Airlines Have Fared in 2020

John Csiszar
·6 mins read

The state of the American airline industry is one of chaos and concern. While many industries are grappling with coronavirus-related issues that threaten their existence, few have been rocked like the airline companies. Flying ? with packed seats and recirculating air ? presents a threat to everyone on board if even one passenger has COVID-19. The only choice for the industry has been to radically change the process, requiring airlines to limit bookings to ensure passengers can remain socially distanced. And passengers can’t forget their face masks.

While an initial $25 billion federal bailout helped prevent airline companies from laying off workers, those funds expired in September, and furloughs began Oct. 1. American and United have furloughed more than 32,000 employees overall, and Congress and the White House remain at an impasse regarding any potential future aid.

So how are airlines faring now, with so much uncertainty swirling about the future? One way to take their temperature is to look at stock prices ? specifically, how they’ve changed in 2020. Here’s a closer look at how stock prices have changed this year for all major airlines as they grapple with historic instability.

Last updated: Oct. 23, 2020

Mainline Passenger Airlines

Although passenger counts are slowly on the rise, the mainline airlines have been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic. According to the International Air Transport Association, revenues from passengers are expected to plunge to $241 billion in 2020, down from an original estimate of $581 billion. As of October 2020, 43 commercial airlines have failed this year, and U.S. airlines overall are expected to lose $10 billion in the third quarter of 2020 alone.

Alaska Airlines

  • Stock price Dec. 31, 2019: $67.75

  • Stock price Oct. 7, 2020: $37.02

  • 2020 stock percent change: -45.36%

  • Low point of 2020: March 20, when the stock was at $23.56

Allegiant Air

  • Stock price Dec. 31, 2019: $174.04

  • Stock price Oct. 7, 2020: $116.33

  • 2020 stock percent change: -33.16%

  • Low point of 2020: May 7, when the stock was at $66.23

American Airlines

  • Stock price Dec. 31, 2019: $28.68

  • Stock price Oct. 7, 2020: $13.07

  • 2020 stock percent change: -54.43%

  • Low point of 2020: May 15, when the stock was at $9.04

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Delta Air Lines

  • Stock price Dec. 31, 2019: $58.48

  • Stock price Oct. 7, 2020: $32.15

  • 2020 stock percent change: -45.02%

  • Low point of 2020: May 15, when the stock was at $19.19

Frontier Airlines

Frontier is a privately held company.

Hawaiian Airlines

  • Stock price Dec. 31, 2019: $29.29

  • Stock price Oct. 7, 2020: $13.25

  • 2020 stock percent change: -54.76%

  • Low point of 2020: March 19, when the stock was at $8.63

JetBlue

  • Stock price Dec. 31, 2019: $18.72

  • Stock price Oct. 7, 2020: $12.29

  • 2020 stock percent change: -34.35%

  • Low point of 2020: March 23, when the stock was at $6.86

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Southwest Airlines

  • Stock price Dec. 31, 2019: $53.98

  • Stock price Oct. 7, 2020: $38.59

  • 2020 stock percent change: -28.51%

  • Low point of 2020: May 15, when the stock was at $23.38

Spirit Airlines

  • Stock price Dec. 31, 2019: $40.31

  • Stock price Oct. 7, 2020: $16.55

  • 2020 stock percent change: -58.94%

  • Low point of 2020: May 15, when the stock was at $8.01

United Airlines

  • Stock price Dec. 31, 2019: $88.09

  • Stock price Oct. 7, 2020: $36.38

  • 2020 stock percent change: -58.70%

  • Low point of 2020: May 15, when the stock was at $19.92

Regional Passenger Airlines

The longer the coronavirus stimulus package remains in doubt, the less likely it is that regional airlines will survive. In the first round of airline assistance, major carriers were required to maintain at least minimum coverage on regional routes. With this package expiring at the end of September, those requirements no longer are in place. Regional airlines, which rely largely on contracts with major airlines, fall into a difficult position, with a small supply of passengers in need of transportation to major hubs.

Republic Airways

Republic is a privately held company.

SkyWest Airlines

  • Stock price Dec. 31, 2019: $64.63

  • Stock price Oct. 7, 2020: $31.45

  • 2020 stock percent change: -51.34%

  • Low point of 2020: March 18, when the stock was at $12.07

Freight Airlines

Freight is one area of the airline industry that has weathered the pandemic relatively well. In fact, even mainline carriers have begun swapping some passenger seats for cargo space. Although passenger counts are well below average compared to other years due to travel restrictions and fear of contracting the virus, cargo is immune to falling ill, and life goes on. People still need to eat, buy supplies and get their medications, so freight still needs to be moved. The International Air Transport Association predicts a slight increase in cargo revenues for the year, to $111 billion, opposed to the more than 50% expected drop in revenue from passengers.

Atlas Air

  • Stock price Dec. 31, 2019: $27.57

  • Stock price Oct. 7, 2020: $67.02

  • 2020 stock percent change: 143.09%

  • Low point of 2020: March 12, when the stock was at $16.42

Find Out: The 20 Industries That Will Never Be the Same After the Coronavirus

FedEx Express

  • Stock price Dec. 31, 2019: $151.21

  • Stock price Oct. 7, 2020: $268.26

  • 2020 stock percent change: 77.41%

  • Low point of 2020: March 16, when the stock was at $90.49

This is the share price for FedEx (FDX), owner of FedEx Express.

Kalitta Air

Kalitta is a privately-held company.

Polar Air Cargo

  • Stock price Dec. 31, 2019: $27.57

  • Stock price Oct. 7, 2020: $67.02

  • 2020 stock percent change: 143.09%

  • Low point of 2020: March 12, when the stock was at $16.42

This is the share price for Atlas Air (AAWW), owner of Polar Air Cargo.

UPS Airlines

  • Stock price Dec. 31, 2019: $117.06

  • Stock price Oct. 7, 2020: $174.99

  • 2020 stock percent change: 49.49%

  • Low point of 2020: March 12, when the stock was at $86.17

This is the share price for United Parcel Service (UPS), owner of UPS Airlines.

Airline Industry in Difficult Straits

The true state of the airline industry won’t be evident just from share prices, particularly in the freight category, where notable business entities are mostly either privately held or are subsidiaries of much larger companies with diverse revenue streams. If an area of the airline industry likely can weather this storm, freight carriers would seem to be the least vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic.

But the impact on commercial passenger lines has been considerable, and the stock market reflects this. Several major carriers ? including American, United and Spirit ? are worth less than half of what they were at the end of last year, leaving investors running for the exits. That said, at least some people might view this as a chance to invest in a cyclical industry at a low point, potentially cashing in years from now, if and when the airline industry bounces back.

More From GOBankingRates

Joel Anderson contributed to the reporting for this article.

Stock prices were gathered and accurate as of Oct. 7, 2020.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: How Southwest, Spirit and Other Airlines Have Fared in 2020