Hope Is In The Air

FIONA HANSON / AP-PA

Ryanair's Michael O'Leary

"We survived the four horsemen of the apocalypse — SARS, conflict in Iraq, terrorism and the economy," said Giovanni Bisignani, head of global airline-industry group IATA, last year. "But a fifth horseman, the price of oil, could deny us profitability yet again."

Not in Ryanair's case. The Dublin-based budget airline's fuel bill doubled in the six months to October, but it still cheered earnings of $277 million last week, a year- on-year rise of 18%. CEO Michael O'Leary's course of squeezing nonfuel costs and pushing up passenger volumes will "see [Ryanair] through an awful lot of tough...

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