The combination of plunging oil prices and deep cuts in capacity will enable airlines to profit in 2009, analysts say, despite a worldwide economic crisis. After a "near-death experience" as oil approached $150 a barrel last summer, U.S. airlines "learned capacity discipline," according to Kevin Mitchell of the Business Travel Coalition. "The only thing that will disrupt profits now would be if revenues were to drop by 20%," says New York airline consultant Robert Mann, adding that even during the Great Depression, demand for intercity travel did not drop nearly that much.

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