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Airlines Attempt to Push Airfares Higher

/ Source: Associated Press
An airplane lands.OLAF KRAAK / AFP - Getty Images file

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U.S. airlines are trying to raise prices as the summer travel season approaches, but the fate of the latest fare increase is still uncertain.

Delta Air Lines Inc. raised base prices on domestic flights by up to $10 per round trip, a spokesman said Thursday. He declined to give a reason for the increase.

Representatives of United Airlines parent United Continental Holdings Inc. and JetBlue Airways Corp. said their airlines matched the Delta increase. Rick Seaney, who runs the FareCompare.com fare-tracking website, said that American and US Airways did too. Representatives of American Airlines Group Inc., which owns both airlines, did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokeswoman for Southwest Airlines Co. said the company, which also owns AirTran Airways, had not raised fares.

Southwest's hesitation could be crucial. The airline carries more domestic passengers than other airlines and has great influence over fares. Other airlines often roll back price increases that aren't matched by Southwest. Seaney said that of 12 previous attempts to raise fares this year, only four succeeded — and all four were supported by Southwest.

Airlines run frequent sales and constantly adjust fares to match demand, so passengers on the same flight can pay different prices depending on when they buy their ticket. The average domestic ticket cost $381 in the fourth quarter of last year, an increase of $1 over the previous year, according to government figures.

— The Associated Press

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