Fortune magazine reported that SkyWest, an independent regional airline, negotiated a financial arrangement with Delta and United to provide regional jet service for the two major airlines. For its part of the deal, SkyWest agreed to paint its jets the colors of Delta Connection and United Express and to fly routes specified by the two airlines. In return, Delta and United agreed to pay SkyWest a predetermined profit margin and to cover most of the regional airline’s costs. Fortune explained that while the deal limited the amount of profit SkyWest could earn, it also insulated the smaller airline from volatility in earnings since Delta and United covered SkyWest’s fuel costs, increased its load factor (the percentage of seats occupied), and managed its ticket prices.
Fortune suggested that Wall Street liked the deal because SkyWest’s market valuation increased from $143 million to $1.1 billion after it began its service with the two major airlines. Explain carefully how this arrangement with Delta and United could have caused the value of SkyWest to increase dramatically even though it limited the amount of profit SkyWest could earn.