While airline stocks have a reputation for destroying shareholder value as they grapple with volatile fuel costs and grueling competition, investment pros are warming up to a few names in the sector.

With American Airlines moving closer to exiting bankruptcy with a possible merger with US Airways Group Inc., the industry will be have at least one blockbuster deal to help reinvent itself for Wall Street.

“We think there’s a renaissance going on in the airline industry,” Marshall said. “We’re still in the early stages of it. There will be starts and stops with fuel costs and the economy. But the industry as a whole has become more rational, and we think you could build a better investment case around the airlines today than you could 20 years ago.

Photo Credit: Copa Airlines is listed on the New York Stock Exchange starting in 2011. David Shankbone / Flickr.com