US airlines will return to profit at the operating level next year if oil stays at or below $60 a barrel, according to JP Morgan analysts Jamie Baker and Pakhi Elder, who forecast the industry will earn $4.6 billion at the operating level compared with an estimated loss of $2 billion in 2005. Operating profit excluding fuel should hit $28.8 billion in 2006, up from $21.9 billion this year. Driving the improvement are declining capacity and "surging RASM," the analysts wrote in a report ...

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