Turning a profit as an airline is one of the hardest tasks in all of business, so studying the successes and failures of the industry can teach any business executive a thing or two about thriving in a competitive market, writes Michael Bell, a consultant at Spencer Stuart. The airline industry is at the mercy of a plethora of external forces, so executives have to be able to create long-term plans, ride out downturns and take advantage of rare opportunities to get ahead.

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