Effort to Raise Airfares Fizzles

A nationwide increase in airline ticket prices fell apart over the weekend, the second time in two weeks that the major airlines have failed to raise fares.

The price increase, implemented last week, covered leisure and business fares. Several carriers, including Fort Worth-based American Airlines, raised round-trip leisure fares in many markets by $10 to $20, depending on the trip's length.

Separately, Northwest Airlines raised the price on round-trip business fares by $100. That covers fares that are bought on short notice, usually by business travelers, typically the most expensive tickets available.

Initially, Continental and United airlines matched the business price increase, but American and Delta Air Lines refused, according to Terry Trippler, an analyst with CheapSeats.com, an Internet travel firm.

Sunday, Continental and Northwest rescinded the fare increases on leisure and business tickets. At that point, Trippler said, "It was doomed."

The second failed attempt to raise prices followed a spate of fare increases earlier this year that saw round-trip ticket prices rising by as much as $60.

The major hub airlines have been desperate to raise fares as they battle fuel costs. Even with the earlier price increases, airline tickets remain at the cheapest level in decades.

Shares in AMR Corp., parent of American (ticker: AMR), were down 18 cents at $13.42 in trading Monday.