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This woman transformed an airline into a profit machine

The airline industry is a notoriously tough place to make money, and it’s a notoriously tough place for women to reach the highest echelons. But Carolyn McCall is doing both.

A profile published Monday in the New York Times charts the rise of McCall, a former publishing executive, who in less than five years has taken the low-cost European airline EasyJet and turned it from a basket case into a money minter.

According to the Times, “EasyJet has reported record annual profits for the last four years, nearly doubling revenue during that time. Net income for the 2014 financial year came to 450 million pounds, or about $690 million, on revenue of more than 4.5 billion pounds.”

McCall achieved the turnaround by keeping prices low for the airline’s cost-conscious customer base. She also reached out to business flyers, aiming to attract them to what has traditionally been a discount airline. As Chris Tarry, an aviation consultant in the U.K., told the Times:

“To drive greater returns, you need to look at improving the quality of the revenue. So appealing to more business passengers and everything that goes with that — better network, better frequency — has turned out to be a virtuous circle.”