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Delta to pass airport fees onto passengers

Delta Air Lines said on Friday it will raise roundtrip ticket prices by as much as $9 on some flights to cover airport fees.
/ Source: Reuters

Delta Air Lines Inc. said on Friday it will start adding airport fees to its ticket prices on connecting flights, boosting some ticket prices, while United Airlines said it raised fares.

The moves are the latest sign airlines are getting bolder in trying to increase fares, which in recent years have failed to keep pace with surging fuel prices, pushing most carriers deep into the red.

Delta, which is operating under bankruptcy protection and lost more than $500 million in January and February, said passengers could pay $3 to $4.50 on each leg of flights that connect through airports charging the fees.

For flights that involve connections at two airports, it could raise ticket prices by up to $9 each way, the No. 3 U.S. airline said.

Separately, UAL Corp.’s United said on Friday it had raised business fares by $50 each way in an effort to offset soaring fuel prices. It also raised fares $2 to $4 each way in markets where it faces low-fare competition and $5 each way in other leisure markets, said UAL spokeswoman Robin Urbanski.

American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said the No. 1 U.S. airline had made a similar move to Delta’s a week ago for its Chicago, Miami and St. Louis hubs, but is studying the extent of Delta’s move.

American, which is controlled by AMR Corp., is also studying UAL’s fare rise, but has not yet matched it, Smith said. Delta and Continental did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the increase.

Northwest Airlines Corp. tried adding the airport fees, called passenger facility charges, to its ticket prices last year, only to retreat when the move was not matched by all of its rivals, notably Continental Airlines.

Northwest said last year that the fees, which are raised by local airports to fund improvements, cut its revenues by $80 to $100 million a year.

“Continental did not go along in the past. The key is, will they go along this time,” said Terry Trippler, an analyst with travel Web site Cheapseats.com. “For the passenger, it’s something they have been getting free, technically, that they shouldn’t have been all this time.”

Continental, whose main hub in Houston does not have a passenger facility charge, is studying whether to start passing the fee on to passengers connecting through its Cleveland hub, said spokeswoman Julie King.

Northwest, which filed for bankruptcy protection in September on the same day as Delta, is also studying the move, spokesman Dean Breest said.

Airlines began absorbing the fees to be competitive with rivals flights that connected through airports that did not charge such fees or that were direct.