For airlines, hedging the cost of fuel has perhaps never been more important than it is now in the midst of a breathtaking ascent in oil prices. One of the most successful airline hedgers, Southwest, recorded a second quarter profit, while airlines that haven't hedged so aggressively are getting hit harder by fuel prices. Since the 1980s, airlines have used hedging as a way to limit their exposure to price risks in fuel. Currently, American, United, Delta, Continental, Northwest, Southwest, US Airways and JetBlue all have fuel hedging programs. The more airlines are hedged, the more protected they are from price spikes. The cost of hedging has led some airlines to take their chances with the market. A JetBlue spokesperson says its hedging program aims to be 50% hedged for the current quarter, 30% hedged one quarter out, 20% hedged two quarters out and 10% hedged three quarters out.
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