Northwest Backs Down on $50 Fare Increase

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Northwest Airlines Corp. backed down on a $50 each-way fare increase aimed at business travelers after two other carriers failed to match it.

Northwest announced the fare increase on Friday, and United, Continental, and US Airways all matched it. But American Airlines and Delta Air Lines never did, and other airlines began backing down over the weekend. By Sunday night Northwest dropped it.

Northwest also rescinded a $5 to $10 fare increase on tickets that compete with discount carriers, and a two-night stay requirement for some fares.

The fare increases were dropped ''because our fares were no longer competitive,'' Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said on Monday.

Northwest's increase was the first effort to push above the $499 cap for one-way tickets Delta instituted in January. Other carriers matched Delta's cap, at least in markets where they compete. Northwest has complained that the cap is arbitrary and hurts the industry.

Northwest shares fell $1.03, or 16.3 percent, to $5.30in midday trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market, while Delta shares fell 9 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $3.68 on the New York Stock Exchange.