What happened

Tuesday was a down day on Wall Street for airlines, and JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ:JBLU) fell more than most. Shares of JetBlue closed off 4% despite no negative company news.

Airline stocks have come a long way in a short amount of time, and investors on Tuesday were giving the rally a rest.

So what

Airline stocks were among the big losers in the pandemic, with JetBlue, for example, losing more than half its value in March 2020. The stocks slowly recovered some of those losses later in the year as conditions stabilized, and have been rallying so far this year on optimism that as vaccines become more widespread, people will travel this summer.

A row of JetBlue tails at the airport.

Image source: JetBlue Airways.

The only news on JetBlue on Tuesday was good. The airline was one of a number of carriers mentioned positively by Goldman Sachs. Analyst Catherine O'Brien raised her price target on JetBlue shares to $24 from $15, keeping her buy rating in place, saying her expectations for travel demand between now and 2023 are improving.

JetBlue's price target was raised at Stifel a day earlier, as Wall Street is once again getting bullish about airlines.

Now what

The positive words were not enough to keep the stock from falling, but investors shouldn't be too upset. JetBlue shares are still up 44% since the beginning of February, and after a miserable 2020, the company is definitely heading in the right direction.

Unfortunately, it is going to take time for the industry, including JetBlue, to fully recover. On Monday, the carrier said in a regulatory filing that it expects first-quarter capacity to be down 41% year over year, and that it "continues to believe demand and revenue recovery will be non-linear and cannot reliably predict changes to revenue due to additional COVID-19 related disruptions or other factors."

As JetBlue notes, the recovery will not likely be linear. And neither will the stock's price climb. The airline's shares over time can still gain altitude from here, but investors should continue to expect some turbulence ahead.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.