North American airlines could have $19 billion in 2015 earnings, report says

Perhaps it's not the best time to be an airline customer. But it's a great time to be an airline investor. 

Bloomberg reported today that a group of nine U.S. airlines and two Canadian airlines could report earnings of a combined $19 billion, according to calculations from one Wall Street analyst. This year, that number is expected to be about $11 billion. 

The reason? Lower fuel prices. That's good for airlines, as fuel is the No. 1 expense for most carriers. Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Glenn Engel also told Bloomberg that low fuel costs would be good for consumer spending. If customers spend less on gas, they might be more inclined to spend more on travel, he said. 

Bloomberg reported that jet fuel in New York is now costing about $2.23 per gallon, it's lowest cost since 2009. 

Of course, if fuel rises again unexpectedly, the climate for airlines will look a lot different in 2015.