(AP)-- Soaring jet fuel prices are wiping out profits at the nation's biggest airlines.
The world's biggest airline company, United Continental Holdings Inc., said Thursday that it lost $213 million in the first three months of the year after seeing its fuel bill spike nearly $600 million.
Airlines use complex financial transactions to hedge against rising fuel prices, but there's only so much they can do to control their single biggest cost. Hedging saved American Airlines $100 million in the first quarter, but its fuel bill still rose by $351 million and it posted a $436 million loss.
Even a profit machine like Southwest Airlines Co., and rival low-cost carrier JetBlue Airways Corp., barely rose above break-even after paying to fuel their planes.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
APTV 04-21-11 1258CDT