What happened

Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes (GOL -5.00%), also called Gol Intelligent Airlines, is out with results that are keeping the recent rally in Brazilian airline stocks going. Shares of Gol climbed as much as 17% on Wednesday after the company posted numbers that suggest it has finally put the pandemic behind it.

So what

The airline industry was hit hard by the pandemic. In the United States the sector bounced back quickly after vaccines became widespread, but markets elsewhere including Brazil have been stubbornly slow to respond.

That might finally be changing. Days after Brazilian rival Azul reported a solid quarter and provided an optimistic outlook about the year ahead, Gol is out with numbers that topped the fourth quarter of 2019.

The company earned $0.21 per share in the quarter on revenue of 4.7 billion reais ($910 million). The revenue figure is up 61% over the same three months of 2021, and up 24% from the 2019 period.

"This year was marked by the return to normal operations in many aspects," CEO Celso Ferrer said in a statement. Ferrer said that customer demand "continues to grow," particularly from what he calls business and "bleisure" travelers, or those flying on hybrid business and vacation trips.

During the pandemic Gol was focused on cost-control, and that is now paying off with higher margins. The airline reported an EBIT margin of 15% in the quarter.

Now what

Even with the recent rally, shares of Gol remain down more than 80% from where they traded at the end of 2019. Gol is just beginning to ramp up flying, so there is the opportunity for further growth from here.

Investors should note there is also a lot that could go wrong, including domestic Brazilian political instability, a weakening of the Latin American economy due to the strong U.S. dollar, and fierce competition from the likes of Azul. There's no guarantee that Gol shares can quickly reach the heights they traded at in 2019.

But the airline appears to be on the right path, and investors are understandably excited by the opportunity.