Airlines for America Chief Economist John Heimlich said that the top 10 U.S. carriers have moved from "razor-thin to paper-thin margins” so far in 2013. Heimlich cautioned that fuel remains the carriers' largest and most volatile expense, saying that "a swing of 20 cents per gallon (in fuel costs) would have wiped out the profits." Fuel prices have already risen 26 cents per gallon since the first half of this year.

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