What happened

Shares of Brazilian airline Azul (NYSE:AZUL) got a lift on Thursday following the company's third-quarter earnings report. Results came in much better than expected, and Azul stock traded up as much as 14% as a result.

So what

Azul, like most airlines, has struggled through the pandemic. But the company has performed much better than a lot of its Latin American rivals, and appears well positioned to gain share as a recovery takes hold.

A plane soars high above the clouds.

Image source: Getty Images.

The airline's third-quarter results did little to change that thesis. Azul reported a quarterly loss of $1.08 per share on revenue of 2.72 billion Brazilian reals (about $503 million), better than the $1.19-per-share loss on R2.44 billion ($452 million) in sales that was expected.

The revenue figure was up 59.6% from the previous quarter, and 237% higher than the same three months of 2020.

"We delivered a very positive result with significant improvement in capacity, revenue, and earnings compared to the previous quarter," CEO John Rodgerson said in a statement. "In the quarter, we recovered our unit revenue to pre-pandemic levels, one of the few airlines worldwide to have achieved this milestone already and having done so a full quarter ahead of our expectations."

Now what

Looking ahead, Rodgerson said that although currency exchange rates and rising fuel prices are a concern, he sees positive signs Brazil is beginning to move past the pandemic.

"Vaccinations continue to increase, Brazilian cities have reopened, companies are coming back to the office and international border restrictions have been lifted," the CEO said. "These improvements along with our unique fleet and network advantages renew the confidence in our plans for 2022."

Azul has navigated through the pandemic better than most, and the company is reportedly closing in on a deal to acquire at least part of a bankrupt rival to gain market share. The recovery won't be straight up from here, and investors should keep their belts fastened in anticipation of further turbulence, but Azul continues to be the best stock to own for investors interested in buying into a Latin American travel recovery.

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.