Despite operating losses of $2.6 billion in the first nine months of the year, analysts say the 10 biggest U.S. airlines are poised for a turnaround beginning this quarter, due largely to the sharp drop in fuel prices. "The common wisdom going into a recession is that the last group to do well would be airlines," says Michael Derchin, an analyst at FTN Midwest Research Securities. "But I'm modeling profits for all of them." The combination of cheaper fuel and deep capacity cuts should allow the carriers to profit no matter what happens with the broader economy, according to some experts.

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