Discount Airlines Tap Stock Market as Investors Bet on Travel Recovery

As air travel shows more signs of rebounding from its pandemic lows, airlines that focus

As air travel shows more signs of rebounding from its pandemic lows, airlines that focus on offering cheap fares to leisure travelers are cashing in on the stock market.

Frontier Group Holdings Inc.’s initial public offering raised $570 million after shares of the Denver-based budget carrier were priced at $19 each. Sun Country Airlines Holdings Inc., which largely flies Midwesterners to sunny vacation locales, raised more than $250 million in its initial public offering in March.

U.S. airlines lost some $35 billion last year, and most are still losing money. But the stock-market offerings are a sign that investors are betting that some of the industries hit hardest by the pandemic are poised to bounce back. Airports are busier than they have been anytime in the past year amid bustling spring break traffic, and airlines say summer bookings have picked up.

In the latest sign of an expected recovery in travel, United Airlines Holdings Inc. is planning to restart the pilot-hiring process it halted last year, the company told pilots in a memo.

United plans to begin with 300 pilots who had conditional job offers last year or whose new-hire training was canceled during the pandemic. The hiring was first reported by CNBC. Some other airlines have also said they are planning to hire this year.