NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The airline industry trade association (IATA) is now projecting record profits of $29.3 billion for the airline industry in 2015. More than half is slated to be earned in North America.

The drivers are the economy and the low and stable oil prices of $65 per barrel, compared to $101 in 2014. The recent job reports for May confirm that U.S. economic growth should be strong in the remainder of 2015.

With the great news on the employment front indicating that the private sector is expecting solid economic growth the rest of the year, and coupled with low and stable oil prices, we decided to take a look at the best stocks in the airline industry, focusing on those with high volatility for a high potential reward.

So, what are the best volatile airline stocks that investors should be buying? Here are the top three, according to TheStreet Ratings,TheStreet's proprietary ratings tool.

TheStreet Ratings projects a stock's total return potential over a 12-month period including both price appreciation and dividends. Based on 32 major data points, TheStreet Ratings uses a quantitative approach to rating over 4,300 stocks to predict return potential for the next year. The model is both objective, using elements such as volatility of past operating revenues, financial strength, and company cash flows, and subjective, including expected equities market returns, future interest rates, implied industry outlook and forecasted company earnings.

Buying an S&P 500 stock that TheStreet Ratings rated a buy yielded a 16.56% return in 2014 beating the S&P 500 Total Return Index by 304 basis points. Buying a Russell 2000 stock that TheStreet Ratings rated a buy yielded a 9.5% return in 2014, beating the Russell 2000 index, including dividends reinvested, by 460 basis points last year.

Check out which airlines made the list. And when you're done, be sure to read about which biotech companies to buy now. Year-to-date returns are based on June 10, 2015, closing prices. The highest-rated stock appears last.

SAVE ChartSAVE data by YCharts
3. Spirit Airlines, Inc. (SAVE)

Rating: Buy, A-
Market Cap: $4.5 billion
Year-to-date return: -17.6%

Spirit Airlines, Inc. provides low-fare airline services. As of February 17, 2015, it operated approximately 325 daily flights to 57 destinations in the United States, Caribbean, and Latin America.

"We rate SPIRIT AIRLINES INC (SAVE) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, impressive record of earnings per share growth, good cash flow from operations and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • SAVE's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 3.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 12.6%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.32, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels. To add to this, SAVE has a quick ratio of 1.58, which demonstrates the ability of the company to cover short-term liquidity needs.
  • SPIRIT AIRLINES INC reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, SPIRIT AIRLINES INC increased its bottom line by earning $3.06 versus $2.43 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($4.91 versus $3.06).
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 85.16% to $167.84 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, SPIRIT AIRLINES INC has also modestly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 75.22%.
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, reflecting both the market's overall trend during that period and the fact that the company's earnings growth has been robust. Looking ahead, the stock's rise over the last year has already helped drive it to a level which is relatively expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that the other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.

DAL ChartDAL data by YCharts
2. Delta Air Lines, Inc. (DAL)

Rating: Buy, A-
Market Cap: $33.5 billion
Year-to-date return: -16.5%

Delta Air Lines, Inc. provides scheduled air transportation for passengers and cargo worldwide. The company operates in two segments, Airline and Refinery. Its route network comprises various gateway airports in Amsterdam, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St.

"We rate DELTA AIR LINES INC (DAL) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations, growth in earnings per share and increase in net income. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • DAL's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 3.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 5.3%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • DELTA AIR LINES INC reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, DELTA AIR LINES INC reported lower earnings of $0.75 versus $12.29 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($4.56 versus $0.75).
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 72.02% to $1,636.00 million when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow, DELTA AIR LINES INC's average is still marginally south of the industry average growth rate of 75.22%.
  • The company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed compared to the Airlines industry average, but is greater than that of the S&P 500. The net income increased by 250.2% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $213.00 million to $746.00 million.
  • The gross profit margin for DELTA AIR LINES INC is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 29.36%. Regardless of DAL's low profit margin, it has managed to increase from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, DAL's net profit margin of 7.94% compares favorably to the industry average.

ALK ChartALK data by YCharts
1. Alaska Air Group, Inc. (ALK)

Rating: Buy, A+
Market Cap: $7.9 billion
Year-to-date return: 1.7%

Alaska Air Group, Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides passengers and cargo air transportation services primarily in the United States. The company operates through Alaska Mainline and Alaska Regional segments.

"We rate ALASKA AIR GROUP INC (ALK) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, expanding profit margins and good cash flow from operations. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • ALK's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 3.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 3.8%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • Powered by its strong earnings growth of 65.92% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 32.02% over the past year, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 Index during the same period. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, ALK should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • ALASKA AIR GROUP INC reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, ALASKA AIR GROUP INC increased its bottom line by earning $4.43 versus $3.59 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($5.95 versus $4.43).
  • 35.46% is the gross profit margin for ALASKA AIR GROUP INC which we consider to be strong. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 11.74% is above that of the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 112.39% to $514.00 million when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 75.22%.

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