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Southwest Airlines raises fares by $10

Southwest Airlines Co. , the leading U.S. discount carrier, raised airfares as much as $10 one way over the Thanksgiving Day weekend, a company spokeswoman said Monday.
/ Source: Reuters

Southwest Airlines Co., the leading U.S. discount carrier, raised airfares as much as $10 one way over the Thanksgiving Day weekend, a company spokeswoman said Monday.

The increase, which comes a few weeks after a broader increase by traditional carriers, marks the fifth price hike from the low-cost carrier this year, with the last coming in June. The fare boost comes as Southwest faces rising fuel and labor costs.

Southwest has been able to undercut its competitors and still post profits because of long-term fuel hedges set up when oil prices were much lower. But these hedges will gradually unwind over the coming years, exposing the carrier to higher fuel costs.

In addition, Southwest is renegotiating a contract with its pilots, who are the highest paid in the U.S. airline industry.

Southwest said it raised fares $10 each way on routes of more than 1,000 miles and $3 on flights of more than 750 and less 1,000. The fare increases took effect Thursday and affect about 20 percent of its customers.

A walk-up fare from Chicago to Los Angeles, for example, rose to $280 from $270.

United Airlines, which is owned by UAL Corp., and American Airlines, which is owned by AMR Corp., said it matched Southwest’s fare increase. Continental also said it matched the increase, which affects about 15 percent of its domestic markets.

Discount carrier JetBlue Airways Corp. said it had not matched the increase.