When you think of a hot airline stock, JetBlue's (NASDAQ:JBLU) mid-2003 explosion in price may come to mind. Well, bankruptcy-court-protected Hawaiian Airlines has made its parent company, Hawaiian Holdings (AMEX:HA), a red-hot stock now.

About that stock symbol, finally, shareholders are laughing. The highflying stock is up 17.2% today and up more than 1,000% during the last 52 weeks.

What is fueling this explosive rise is -- you guessed it -- profitability. The company was the U.S.'s third-most profitable airline in 2003. It is also the nation's No. 1 on-time carrier. That is a great one-two combination.

Light traffic during the first quarter challenges all airlines. Last year's first quarter was the knockout blow that sent Hawaiian to bankruptcy court. This year the company fought back to post a first-quarter net profit of $8.3 million.

The company's March operating margin of 9.5% is out of the reach of rivals American (NYSE:AMR) and Delta (NYSE:DAL) and tops the 8% annual operating margin at Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV). Life is good in the land of swaying palms.

Bankruptcy court is no guarantee for success. United Airlines has made the trip and never approached the success Hawaiian is enjoying.

What sent the stock soaring today was the announcement that 10 million shares (35%) of the company's stock was sold by its controlling shareholder to an investor group. As part of the transaction, the chairman and CEO of the holding company and two directors resigned.

New ownership and leadership at the holding company does not signal that the final financial structure for the airline is in view. Boeing (NYSE:BA), one of company's largest creditors, and others have until July 29 to file reorganization plans. Even then, it will be October before the reorganization plan is finalized.

A red-hot stock is fine -- when you own it. With so much uncertainly surrounding the final financial and equity structure of Hawaiian Airlines, buying Hawaiian Holdings takes a leap of faith -- one without financial measures to assess future risk. Buying the company now may be the financial equivalent of taking a swan dive into a pit of red-hot coals.

Spend time talking to other investors about Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation JetBlue or the Best Travel Spots/Tips in the Fool Community's discussion boards.

Fool contributor W.D. Crotty has flown with friendly Hawaiian Airlines and pines for the sound of ukulele music and Hawaiian waterfront resort creature comforts. Keep dreaming, W.D. He does not own stock in any of the companies mentioned.