Some major airlines try to raise fares again
DALLAS – Some major U.S. airlines are trying to revive fare increases for high-end tickets after failing to impose bigger price increases last week.
The move comes as airlines are worried about the prospect of higher jet fuel prices. Oil prices surged to their highest levels in more than two years Tuesday as violence in Libya raised fears that oil production could be threatened there or in other OPEC countries.
Fare watchers say American, United, Continental and US Airways raised prices Monday by $20 to $60 per round trip on some tickets favored by business travelers.
The increases are half the size of some that were briefly imposed last week, then rolled back after US Airways decided not to raise prices.
The airlines are dealing with roughly a 50 percent increase in prices for jet fuel in the past year.
American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith confirmed that his airline raised prices at midday Monday, adding that he believed American was the first carrier to do so. US Airways confirmed matching the increase. Representatives of United Continental Holdings Inc. did not comment immediately.
Delta Air Lines remained a key holdout Tuesday morning. If even one major airline refuses to go along, fare increases can collapse. That’s what happened last week to a Delta-led effort to boost high-end tickets by $40 to $120 per round trip – US Airways first matched that increase and then abandoned it.
JPMorgan Chase analyst Jamie Baker predicted Delta would match the latest increase. Delta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This week’s increases cover first-class seats, economy seats that can instantly be upgraded to first-class, and so-called walk-up fares – tickets bought the day of travel. Such seats are believed to be a small portion of tickets sold by airlines, but they command very high prices.
Baker said demand for such tickets is less sensitive to price increases because the pricey fares are typically favored by corporate travelers.
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