Could $1,400 Stimulus Checks Lift Air Travel Demand?

President Joe Biden’s massive $1.9 trillion stimulus package took a giant step toward becoming reality today as the Senate narrowly voted to approve the measure. Squeaking by with a final tally of 51-50—Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote—the resolution includes $1,400 checks to individuals earning under $50,000, expand federal unemployment benefits and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The resolution now moves on to the House and, if approved there, will be legislated in as many as 25 different committees across both chambers of Congress.

It’s highly doubtful that the final bill will be a carbon copy of the resolution—to the relief of budget hawks—but it’s hoped that an extra $1,400 in the pockets of everyday Americans may help support lagging consumption. U.S. consumer spending fell slightly for a second straight month in December.

I believe the stimulus may also help support commercial air travel. With vaccine distribution scheduled to improve, a greater number of travel-starved individuals and families may jump at the chance to book a well-needed vacation, possibly as early as this summer.

This, in turn, may prompt investors to book a flight on airlines stocks, which are already recovering steadily along with U.S. government bond yields. Yields go up, remember, when safe-haven demand for Treasuries goes down.

Airline stocks tracking treasury yields higher as investor sentiment improves
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Another positive sign that the economy is recovering is the stellar manufacturing report for January. The IHS Markit U.S. Manufacturing PMI clocked in at 59.2, the highest level in the series’ history. This is bullish not just for the airline industry but also industrial metals and raw materials.

U.S. manufacturing PMI hit a record high in January 2021
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Commercial aviation still has some challenging times ahead of it, but I believe the worst is behind us, meaning now may be an opportune time to get exposure to an industry that’s on sale right now at a deep discount.

Below are five additional reasons why I think airline stocks could be a buy in 2021.