This airline won't let higher fuel costs keep it down--at least not for the most recent quarter.

Continental Airlines

(CAL) - Get Report

reported 32% growth in third-quarter earnings, beating analysts' expectations. The company said its earnings growth was thanks to strong travel demand and successful fuel hedging, which offset the pain of high fuel costs.

Continental, the fifth largest airline in the U.S, earned $137 million, or $2.24 a share, excluding a $2 million extraordinary charge for early debt repayment, compared with $104 million, or. $1.44 a share, in the year-ago period.

Its third-quarter earnings beat the

First Call/Thomson Financial

11-analyst consensus estimate of $2.19 a share.

Revenue grew 16% to $2.62 billion from $2.26 billion a year earlier, while passenger revenue rose about 16% to $2.5 billion.