updated 1/25/2008 5:24:02 PM ET 2008-01-25T22:24:02

Continental Airlines Inc. doubled its fuel surcharge, raising round-trip fares by $20, to offset increased costs, a spokesman said Friday.

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The increase is the fourth tried by a major airline since the beginning of the year. Attempts by American Airlines and United Airlines, the two biggest U.S. airlines, to raise fares by even larger amounts ahead of the past two weekends have failed.

Airlines are under pressure from shareholders to increase fares to keep up with the rising price of fuel, one of the industry's biggest costs.

Dave Messing, a spokesman for Houston-based Continental, said the increase of $10 one-way and $20 round-trip affects all flights in the contiguous 48 states. It will be included in the total fare customers pay, not tacked on afterward, he said.

"It's to help us increase revenue to cover the near record fuel costs we're experiencing," Messing said.

Delta Air Lines Inc. and Northwest Airlines Corp. each matched the increase Friday, according to FareCompare.com, a Web site that tracks airline ticket prices.

"It is highly likely that the rest of the legacy airlines will finish off matching later today and definitely over the weekend," FareCompare.com Chief Executive Rick Seaney said in an e-mail.

Increases by one carrier are typically matched by competitors within a matter of days. But as airlines jostle for customers in competitive markets, they often undercut rivals by rolling back higher prices almost as quickly as they are added.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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