THE NEAR-TERM OUTLOOK FOR THE world airline industry resembles nothing so much as a cosmic gambling casino in which financial success or failure is as dependent on a roll of the dice as on foresight and planning or a lack thereof. Consider the case of the astutely placed fuel hedges that shielded Southwest Airlines from the full impact of the unprecedented climb in oil prices and enabled it to stay profitable when others were losing their shirts. Those same shields became daggers aimed at ...

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